"Freedom of conscience is not to be surrendered upon issuance of a medical degree," Leavitt said. "This nation was built on a foundation of free speech. The first principle of free speech is protected conscience."Let me just point out here that there are many branches of medicine that a person could practice which in no way involve providing abortions, and only one that does. So perhaps the better answer would be for individual medical professionals to not choose fields where their duties conflict with their beliefs. Also unclear is whether or not doctors would be allowed to object to providing abortions to only certain types of people - say, on the basis of sexual orientation, marital status, or race.
Also worrisome is this:
The underlying laws deal mainly with abortion and sterilization, but both the laws and the language of the rule seem to recognize that objections on conscience grounds could involve other types of services.That's right, under the HSS's new rule, any type of medical procedure could be denied due to any member of the facility's beliefs - since "regulation is written to apply to a broad swath of the health care work force," a hospital worker who decided it was morally wrong for him to, say, provide a certain type of person with lifesaving medications might be covered.
As PalMD of Denialism recently wrote, "...a physician must be careful not impose his or her personal beliefs on patients." In a discussion of Dr. Christine Brody's refusal to provide fertility treatments to Guadalupe T. Benitez (the act of discrimination that eventually led to the CA Supreme Court ruling mentioned at the first of this post), PalMD explains:
The HSS is in the wrong and its new rule is aimed at denying medical services to women. Worse, as Broadsheet notes, the ruling:
Conflicted with the doctor's faith. There's the rub.This is a particularly perverse form of prostelitizing. It doesn't involve having coffee with an acquaintance and teaching them the Word. It involves a vulnerable individual, who comes to a qualified professional for help, and is turned away because of "improper" living and thinking.
For a physician to deny a patient care based on their own beliefs is a cop-out, and is a coercive use of their paternalistic powers.
...goes far beyond defending a medical worker's right to refuse to perform an abortion -- it also secures his or her right to refuse to "refer for, or make other arrangements for, abortions." In other words, a worker at a women's clinic, perhaps the only one for several hundred miles, can refuse to perform an abortion and refuse to refer the patient to someone who will.This seems to be a serious attack on our medical freedoms.
UPDATE: Both NARAL and Planned Parenthood have letters you can sign and send to help ensure this rule does not go into effect. (h/t Jump off the Bridge)