July 15, 2008
Conditional medicine

I don't often write about this kind of stuff, but I find myself particularly annoyed by it, and that's what having a blog is all about.

The Bush administration wants to require all recipients of aid under federal health programs to certify that they will not refuse to hire nurses and other providers who object to abortion and even certain types of birth control.

Under the draft of a proposed rule, hospitals, clinics, researchers and medical schools would have to sign "written certifications" as a prerequisite to getting money under any program run by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Such certification would also be required of state and local governments, forbidden to discriminate, in areas like grant-making, against hospitals and other institutions that have policies against providing abortion.

The proposal, which circulated in the department on Monday, says the new requirement is needed to ensure that federal money does not "support morally coercive or discriminatory practices or policies in violation of federal law." The administration said Congress had passed a number of laws to ensure that doctors, hospitals and health plans would not be forced to perform abortions.

In the proposal, obtained by The New York Times, the administration says it could cut off federal aid to individuals or entities that discriminate against people who object to abortion on the basis of "religious beliefs or moral convictions."

The proposal defines abortion as follows: "any of the various procedures -- including the prescription, dispensing and administration of any drug or the performance of any procedure or any other action -- that results in the termination of the life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation."

Mary Jane Gallagher, president of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, which represents providers, said, "The proposed definition of abortion is so broad that it would cover many types of birth control, including oral contraceptives and emergency contraception."

"We worry that under the proposal, contraceptive services would become less available to low-income and uninsured women," Ms. Gallagher said.

Indeed, among other things the proposal expresses concern about state laws that require hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims who request it.

Can we please put the needs of the patients above the needs of the providers? Between this and all those incidents of pharmacists who won't sell birth control, it's as if we've forgotten who it is that the health care industry is supposed to be serving. I understand that some people may have moral issues regarding certain procedures and medications. I don't want to force people to do stuff they don't want to do, but at some point, if you can't do the job, maybe you should find a different line of work. Sorry, but I'll put my sympathy with the women who are seeking medical assistance before I'll put it with those whose job it is to give it. And even though I feel confident that a President Obama would reverse this stupid directive shortly after being sworn in, the thought that a lame-duck President that nobody likes could just do this as a parting gift makes me ill. RH Reality Check has more.

On a side note, I'm wondering when we'll see the first instance of a pharmacist or nurse refusing to dispense Viagra to a male patient. Mention of which gives me an excuse to run this now-classic video of John McCain:

Straight talk, baby.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 15, 2008 to National news

I certainly DON'T want a president that can't answer a simple question like that. Did you see how nervous he was??? Amazing...

Posted by: Patty Pinkley on July 15, 2008 10:15 PM

"Can we please put the needs of the patients above the needs of the providers?"

Why start now?

Posted by: John on July 19, 2008 7:50 AM
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