By Tim Waggoner

WASHINGTON, DC, May 1, 2009 ( – The 30 day comment period on the Obama administration’s plan to rescind a regulation protecting health care workers’ conscience rights, saw 340,000 Americans tell the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) that they are at odds with the proposed initiative, reports Citizenlink.

Just before his second term ended, President Bush established regulations protecting the rights of healthcare workers to refuse to participate in practices objectionable to their consciences, such as performing abortions or prescribing contraceptives. 

President Obama, however, wasted little time initiating the first step in striking down Bush’s policy, with the official proposal to rescind the Bush-era regulation appearing in the federal register in early March.

Carrie Gordon Earll, senior bioethics analyst at Focus on the Family Action, called it a serious situation.

“If the Bush regulations are reversed and the trend to discriminate continues, people of faith and strong conviction will stop going into medicine,” she said. “In 20 years, you may not be able to find a pro-life doctor. Reversing the regulations puts medical professionals and patients at risk.”

According to an internet poll commissioned by the Christian Medical Association (CMA), which was released the day before the 30-day comment period ended, April 8, 95% of faith-based physicians agreed with the statement: “I would rather stop practicing medicine altogether than be forced to violate my conscience.” (

Freedom2Care, an ad hoc organization of the CMA dedicated to protecting the consciences of healthcare workers, says this poll indicates that a removal of the conscience rights of physicians will mean that “healthcare access for hundreds of thousands of patients nationwide will be threatened and healthcare costs will rise because of the lack of facilities to provide needed services.”

This concern was echoed in a Freedom2Care video aimed at spreading awareness of the issue, during which several healthcare professionals said they would have to quit their practices if they are stripped of their first amendment rights. (

A related poll that was also commissioned by the CMA found that the majority of Americans are strongly opposed to Obama’s initiative. 

“87% of American adults surveyed believed it is important to ‘make sure that healthcare professionals in America are not forced to participate in procedures and practices to which they have moral objections,’” reported Freedom2Care.

The decision on the plan to rescind the conscience-protecting regulation will be announced by the HHS once all of the comments received during the 30 day period are reviewed.