Washington Post: The Obama administration rescinded most of a federal regulation Friday designed to protect health workers who refuse to provide care they find objectionable on personal or religious grounds.
The Health and Human Services Department eliminated nearly the entire rule put into effect by the administration of President George W. Bush during his final days in office that was widely interpreted as allowing such workers to opt out of a broad range of medical services, such as providing the emergency contraceptive Plan B, treating gay men and lesbians and prescribing birth control to single women.
Calling the Bush-era rule “unclear and potentially overbroad in scope,” the new, much narrower version essentially leaves in place only long-standing federal protections for workers who object to performing abortions or sterilizations. It also retains the Bush rule’s formal process for workers to file complaints.
…The new regulation, which goes into effect in 30 days, also ensures that no federal money can be used to “support coercive or discriminatory policies or practices in violation of federal law.”
The Bush regulation, if enforced, would have cut off federal funding for thousands of entities, including state and local governments, hospitals, health plans and clinics, if they did not accommodate doctors, nurses, pharmacists or other employees who refused to participate in care they felt violated their personal, moral or religious beliefs.
The rule was sought by conservative groups, which argued that workers were increasingly being fired, disciplined or penalized in other ways for trying to exercise their “right of conscience.”…
Full article here