Two days before Yule, the Spokesman-Review has an editorial headlined “Petty move hurts poor.” This describes the head of U.S. Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt who wants to put in place a rule that will enable persons of conscious to deny certain medical services [such as abortions and contraceptives] to their patients. Quite frankly, if I for one did not care to offer medical prescriptions to patients out of religious objections, then why would I bother entering the medical field at all? Seems to me that this is less about conscious than scoring political points over divisive issues such as contraceptives and abortion. Move into the medical field, and try to force a change in how it does business by saying that “my conscious is being infringed upon” unless I can get big government to act on my behalf. How about the patients that “my conscious” will ill serve?
The United States already has laws that protect health care workers from being involved in abortions. The Civil Rights act of 1964 protects workers from discrimination based on religion. HHS acknowledges this, but says the rule is needed to raise awareness. There are easier ways to do this than forcing more than a half-million clinics, hospitals and health care centers to certify compliance or risk losing funds.
What I find remarkable is that only now does the Spokesman-Review offer up the sort of challenge to truly big gvt in action only late into the GW presidency and overall administration that its editors couldn’t find in their hearts to do over an entire 8 years. Indeed, the S-R endorsed a fellow fully intent on “knocking over the funiture on his way out the door,” twice. I would further add, that GW spent all of 8 years knocking over the funiture with no more than a few weak challenges from the Democratic opposition. Now with an incoming Democratic administration, GW basically wants to get his revenge on the voters for taking him and his party to the cleaners on 4 November 2008. And that is through a set of last minute rules that intentionally complicate domestic policy for his successor. One of which, truly had the S-R up in arms.
Leavitt’s press release signals that he’s aware of the complications that could arise, but he doesn’t make any tangible effort to address them. He urges health care providers and patients to have upfront, frank conversations about delicate matters, but the ruling doesn’t require that. In fact, it doesn’t even say objecting caregivers have to deliver complete information or suggest options.
“They can just refuse and walk away.” On something other than “delicate matters” say beyond rape that leads the victimized women to seek emergency contraceptives; how about a heart patient v the Christian Scientist? A person’s life that requires complete information, that if it were refused, just because the person charged with offering it objected on the basis of religion, could cause another person’s death. Would in fact the Christian Scientist so opposed to handing out chemicals to prolong a person’s life care to have instead a death on his or her conscious? Telling a fellow to pray away his heart condition, that sufficient faith in God will heal him would put this Christian Scientist in the same category with a doctor who’d refuse to perform the necessary medical assistance when a woman is suffering a miscarriage. After all, he doesn’t want to dirty his hands with an abortion. With a good possibility of having the woman’s death on his hands.
I agree with this editorial. People of conscious need to remember that their patients are human and not after all ideological experiments.