As the Obama Administration begins the process of rescinding the Bush Administration’s HHS “conscious clause” regulation, his midnight parting gift to the religious right, those in the pro-government enforced pregnancy movement (“pro-life”) are beginning to make predictable objections.
The purpose of the sneaky regulation was not just to provide job protections for health care workers who refuse to provide care they find objectionable, the regulation is just another tactic in the enforced pregnancy movement’s strategy to take away women’s choice. Appointing Sam Alito to the Supreme Court was another tactic in this 30-year war. You can read more about the others strategies and tactics used in the war on choice here and here.
Let’s get real here for a second. I have yet to find a person in America that thinks abortions are the greatest thing since sliced bread. In other words, we can all agree that we want to see the number of abortions reduced, but that will happen through sex education, not through restricting abortion. Calling supporters of choice murderers (more than half of all Americans by the way), is not going to change anything but the tenor or the argument. And unless you are also anti-war and anti-death penalty, don’t waste our time. If you believe in the “sanctity of life,” you must believe in the sancity of ALL life.
The opponents of choice will do their best to make Roe v. Wade irrelevant by chipping away at issues like parental and spousal consent, mandatory waiting periods, health exceptions, etc. You know where we are headed right? Illegal abortions (not performed by medically qualified practitioners) are already on the increase because abortions and birth control for that matter are getting harder and harder to get for a lot of women every day. Cases are being introduced in several states that would allow pharmacists and other medical professionals to opt out of providing various medical services, whether or not the patient is entitled to them. These laws could allow insurance companies to deny coverage for services they find objectionable, nursing home personnel to force treatment on those who have do not resuscitate orders, install feeding tubes in those who do not want them, and deny birth control to women (isn’t that funny, since birth control would prevent abortions).
Conscience clauses are a uniquely pernicious tactic in the war against choice because they expand it to other venues. In the case of Bush’s version, contraception was redefined in order to allow health care workers the right to object to dispensing it and in some cases, allow health care workers the right to object to dispensing ANTIBIOTICS because they are prescribed to women after abortions to prevent infection. That’s right, there are health care workers who have refused to dispense antibiotics to someone facing possible infection. Apparently, in some cases, the patient’s life is not worth saving. But I’m sure that health care worker believes in the “sanctity of life” and somehow decided that they were protecting that principle–just not an actual life.
Think of it this way. How would you feel if your pharmacist had the right to deny you birth control because he or she didn’t think a single woman should be having sex without “consequences?” What if your pharmacist decided sex within marriage should always result in children? To carry it further, would a vegan pharmacist have the right to quiz you on your cholesterol intake and deny you your prescribed heart medication? What if you’re a man and the pharmacist objects to sex outside of marriage and refuses to sell you condoms because you should be prepared to pay the consequences for having sex? What if we all have to start filling out questionnaires when we seek health care to make sure we don’t make any lifestyle choices health care workers find to be objectionable?
Where does it end? I’ll tell you where. It ends with the law and with professional ethics. From the American Pharmacists Association Code of Ethics: “A pharmacist avoids discriminatory practices, behavior or work conditions that impair professional judgment, and actions that compromise dedication to the best interests of patients.”
It is a health care workers duty to act in the best interests of their patient, not of themselves. If someone doesn’t like it, they should go into another line of work.
Be sure to sign the Care2 petition to overturn the misguided conscience regulation because every little bit of support helps. Tell the Obama that you support his decision to rescind the DHHS regulation loud and clear.
Photo courtesy of Huffington Post