Friday, February 27, 2009

Eyes Open, Conscience Engaged

When there is a news story that someone wants to bury, typically the information is released on Friday afternoon, as was this one, found in the LA Times.

"Reporting from Washington -- Taking another step into the abortion debate, the Obama administration today will move to rescind a controversial rule that allows healthcare workers to deny abortion counseling or other family planning services if doing so would violate their moral beliefs, according to administration officials...

"Last month without official ceremony, Obama overturned a controversial ban on U.S. funding for international aid groups that provide abortion services.

"The move by the Department of Health and Human Services to throw out the conscience rule is being made equally quietly as most of Washington focuses on the president's blockbuster budget plan."

Read the whole story. This original ruling was supported most strongly by Catholic physicians, pharmacists, and hospitals, who do not want to be forced to counsel women that abortion is an option, or fill prescriptions for the morning after pill.

Just fulfilling my role as a member of the loyal opposition.


Donna said...

Hi Joyce,
I'm troubled by this, as you are, but I read the article in the link and it raised a few questions for me. The rule to be overturned is only 2 months old -- it must have been passed in December -- but doctors have been able to refuse do abortions for reasons of conscience for 30 years.

So I'm wondering what was the purpose of the new rule and why was it slipped in at the last minute. Sounds like we were OK without it before, and Obama is just returning to what we were doing up until 2 months ago.

I don't want to minimize Obama's obvious pro-choice stance, but it doesn't look to me like he really changed anything here.

Joyce said...

Donna, I saw that timing issue, too. My understanding of the Bush ruling is that it was preemptive because of sone legislation that was in the works in several states (including mine)specifically regarding pharmacists, requiring them to fill all legal prescriptions or lose their license. Bush was trying to protect them at the federal level. By countermanding that order, the way is cleared for states to move forward with that legislation.

Generally, I think things should be decided more at the state level than the federal level, but of course in theis case I side with the medical professionals who are trying to maintain their right to act on their conscience, so I'm torm about how it should be handled. I'm very concerned about the pharmacist law in IL.

Donna said...

I didn't know about the pressure on the pharmacists. I think in Oregon, they won the right to not fill Rx's a long time ago. The largest medical facility in our area is Catholic, and although there have been issues, I think the laws have gone the way they wanted them to. Of course, in Oregon we have plenty of other issues to deal with...