Tuesday July 15, 2008

Bush Administration Seeks to Forbid Federal Aid Discrimination against Pro-Life Health Care Professionals

By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 15, 2008 ( – The Bush Administration has proposed new rules to guarantee that all recipients of federal aid under federal health programs will not discriminate against hiring doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals who have moral objections to abortion and abortifacient birth control according to a report by the New York Times.

The proposed regulations would require that hospitals, clinics, researchers, and medical schools sign “written certifications” before receiving federal funding under any program run by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HSS).

The rules would also apply to state and local governments, and forbid them from disqualifying hospitals and other institutions that refuse to perform abortions from receiving grant money.

The Times reports that the HSS proposed the new requirement in order to make sure that federal money would not “support morally coercive or discriminatory practices or policies in violation of federal law.”

Those individuals or organizations found discriminating against health care workers or entities who object to abortion on the basis of “religious beliefs or moral convictions” would face the consequence of loss of federal aid.

The Times says the proposal defines abortion as follows: “any of the various procedures – including the prescription, dispensing and administration of any drug or the performance of any procedure or any other action – that results in the termination of the life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation.”

The decision has been greeted with ire from pro-abortion advocacy groups, which claim that the proposed regulations would mean less contraception – including the abortifacient Plan B emergency contraceptive.

“The proposed definition of abortion is so broad that it would cover many types of birth control, including oral contraceptives and emergency contraception,” Mary Jane Gallagher, president of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, told the Times.

However the pro-family group Concerned Women for America (CWA) says the regulations are overdue to protect healthcare workers from facing the choice of violating their moral and religious convictions or leaving their field.

“For over 35 years, federal laws have protected the conscientious rights of healthcare professionals, but they were not fully implemented for lack of thorough regulations to enforce them,” stated CWA President Wendy Wright. “As more controversial drugs and procedures get introduced, and additional pressure is put on healthcare providers to either compromise their moral commitments or lose their jobs, the need has become greater for regulations to catch up with the law.”

Wright added that she found it ironical abortion proponents who call themselves “pro-choice” are determined to deny the choice of a doctor to refuse abortion.

“Clearly, abortion advocates do not believe in the ‘right to choose’ if the choice is not to participate in abortion or provide drugs that can take the life of a human being,” said Wright, who pointed out that abortion advocates were attempting to muddle the issue by twisting the HSS definition of abortion.

“When abortion advocates claim this regulation would discourage providing ‘contraception’ it reveals that their definition of ‘contraception’ includes drugs that would cause abortion.”

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