Wednesday, August 13, 2008

ACT NOW to protect freedom of conscience for health care workers!

This is an alert from The Population Research Institute, please call the HHS Secretary today, I did and it took one minute, and they were very polite.

New Conscience Regulations Under Active Consideration at HHS

Earlier this week we sent out a Weekly Briefing explaining how the Department of Health and Human Services has come under fire for even considering strengthening their conscience regulations. These regulations would refuse HHS funding to health care providers who discriminate against employees on the basis of their pro-life beliefs. If an employee, or potential employee, says that he will not provide contraceptives or abortions, the bill states that the provider cannot fire them, or refuse to hire them, on that basis.HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt is giving every signal that he wants to do the right thing. Mr. Leavitt is a friend to the pro-life cause on this issue, and he is in a position to do what we want. We need to back him up as much as possible, especially since the opposition is increasing the pressure against him.

How do we know this? On August 12 Secretary Leavitt wrote this in the HHS blog: "I want to reiterate. If the Department of Health and Human Services issues a regulation on this matter, it will aim at one thing, protecting the right of conscience of those who practice medicine. From what I've read the last few days, there's a serious need for it."
Earlier, on August 8, Secretary Leavitt wrote this in the HHS blog: "Several months ago, I became aware that certain medical specialty certification groups were adopting requirements which potentially violate a physician's right to choose whether he or she performs abortion. I wrote to the organizations in question, protesting their actions. Frankly, I found their response to be dodgy and unsatisfying. I sent another letter, more of the same.Not only are there clear provisions in three separate laws protecting federally-funded health care providers' right of conscience, but doing otherwise undermines the most fundamental moral underpinning of freedom of expression and action. I asked that regulations be drafted which would enforce these long-standing laws protecting a medical practitioner's conscience rights.An early draft of the regulations found its way into public circulation before it had reached my review. It contained words that lead some to conclude my intent is to deal with the subject of contraceptives, somehow defining them as abortion. Not true.
The Bush Administration has consistently supported the unborn. However, the issue I asked to be addressed in this regulation is not abortion or contraceptives, but the legal right medical practitioners have to practice according to their conscience and patients should be able to choose a doctor who has beliefs like his or hers.The Department is still contemplating if it will issue a regulation or not. If it does, it will be directly focused on the protection of practitioner conscience.Many have provided comments on this subject and they will all be included under this posting."
Please contact Secretary Leavitt at his office and urge him to prepare regulations to guarantee freedom of conscience for medical providers. As I mentioned above, you can calling his office and leave this message with his staff at 202-690-7000.
Or you can fax your letters directly to his office at 202-690-7203.

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