Obama Administration: Rolling Back Conscience Protections for Doctors, Nurses

Randy Pate /

On March 9, 2009, the Obama Administration proposed to rescind a Bush Administration regulation protecting the conscience rights of health care professionals such as doctors, nurses, and medical students. This regulation implemented longstanding federal conscience protection laws, some of which have been on the books since the 1970s. These laws prohibit discrimination against health care providers who object to participating in abortion, sterilization, or other controversial medical procedures.

Although federal conscience protections have been in place for years, very few health care providers are aware of their rights under these laws. Even worse, HHS has done next to nothing in 35 years to enforce them. The regulation was intended to increase awareness among health care professionals of their rights, finally assign proper enforcement responsibility within HHS, and bring needed clarity to laws that have essentially been gathering dust for decades. (more…)