Obama admin stands by decision to revoke conscience rights for dispensing Plan B
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 10, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is standing by its decision to force pro-life medical professionals to dispense so-called “emergency contraception” such as the drugs Plan B or ella, which can cause abortions.
This February, the Obama administration repealed the strong conscience protection regulations that were put in place in the dying days of the Bush administration. The HHS, under strongly pro-abortion Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, issued a new “final rule,” which leaves health-care workers of federally funded entities a narrower conscience exemption that only protects them from having to participate in abortions or sterilizations.
In a letter to the Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Students for Life of America, and several other groups, Georgina C. Verdugo, the Director of the HHS, defended the new rules, saying, “The federal conscience laws strike a careful balance between the conscience rights of health care providers and the rights of patients to access needed health care.”
The letter was issued in response to a letter of complaint from the pro-life groups, who had urged the HHS to protect the rights of health care workers not to participate in abortions, including by being forced to distribute drugs labeled “contraceptives,” but that can actually cause abortions.
However, in response Verdugo simply pointed to the preamble to the Obama administration’s new Final Rule on conscience rights, which states, “[t]he provision of contraceptive services has never been defined as abortion in federal statue.”
“While the Obama administration may not define life as beginning at fertilization, many Americans and medical professionals do,” said Kristan Hawkins, Executive Director of Students for Life of America, in response.
“Conscience rights should be extended to health care providers who refuse to participate in actions which terminate the life of a human being after fertilization. The current U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regulations are inadequate to protect those rights of conscience as abortionifacent drugs like ella and Plan B are falling through the administration’s loophole.”
The HHS response comes as the Christian Medical Association (CMA) released new polling data on May 3rd showing that 77% of American adults believe that it is important to “make sure that health care professionals in America are not forced to participate in procedures and practices to which they have moral objections.”
A poll released previously by CMA revealed that 62% opposed a revocation of the conscience protection rule for medical professionals.
The drug ella was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in August of 2010 for sale within the United States. The pill is both a contraceptive and abortificant, but the FDA chose only to label it as a contraceptive, deceiving women and forcing pro-life medical professionals to dispense the life-ending drug.
(Learn more about ella here.)