Obama Administration cancels conscience protections for health care workers

So much for common ground.

Do you remember Pres. Obama saying that his administration would protect the conscience of health-care workers when it came to actions which are morally repugnant?

So let’s work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoption more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term. Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded in clear ethics and sound science, as well as respect for the equality of women.”

They cheered him.

On CNA I read this:

Obama administration rolls back medical workers’ conscience protections
By Benjamin Mann

Washington D.C., Feb 18, 2011 / 08:23 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- President Obama’s Secretary for Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, issued new regulations on Feb. 17, canceling out numerous conscience protections for health care workers who have moral or religious objections to certain procedures.

The new rules claim to leave in place the protections for health care providers who oppose abortion and sterilization. However, they remove many other protections for caregivers, including those who are morally opposed to providing services such as in vitro fertilization, contraception – including chemical contraceptives that can cause an abortion – and facilitating sexual practices they consider wrong.

In her report describing the changes, Sebelius criticizes the Bush-era regulations, which clarified the rights of many conscientious objectors to opt of procedures, as “unclear and potentially overly broad in scope.”

Sebelius acknowledged in the final report that “a substantial number of comments in opposition to rescinding the 2008 Final Rule maintained that Roman Catholic hospitals would have to close, that rescission of the rule would limit access to pro-life counseling, and that providers would either leave the health care industry or choose not to enter it.”

In her Feb. 17 report, Sebelius sought to respond to Catholic health workers’ concerns by noting that “under this partial rescission of the 2008 Final Rule, Roman Catholic hospitals will still have the same statutory protections afforded to them as have been for decades.” [Remember when I called Phoenix Bp. Olmsted “the ghost of Christmas yet to come”?]

However, it was precisely in order to solidify those decades-old “statutory protections” in significant ways, that the 2008 rule was made in the first place.

The Department supports the longstanding federal health care provider conscience laws,” the secretary continued, “and with this Final Rule provides a clear process to enforce those laws.”  [Is that what they are calling this?  “Final Rule”?  Mao could not have come up with a better name.]

The purpose of the 2008 rule, however, was not simply to reiterate the content of existing laws, but to clarify how they should be applied, and to provide explicitly for their enforcement.

For this reason, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops had praised the previous rule as a “much-needed implementation of long-standing laws” – saying it clarified many “undefined terms” that allowed state and local governments to  “attack conscience rights as though they do not exist.”

With those “much-needed” rules and clarifications gone, Catholic hospitals and health care workers may find themselves facing difficult situations without explicit protections.

Sebelius pointed out that her department would still be willing to receive and consider their complaints. [Great.  And then what?  She decides? The pro-abortion “Catholic” Secretary decides?]

The portion of the 2008 rule that enables the Office for Civil Rights to investigate complaints from conscientious medical objectors is “being retained,” she said.

“Under this Final Rule,” she offered, “health care providers who believe their rights were violated will now be able to file a complaint with the Department’s Office for Civil Rights in order to seek enforcement of those rights.”  [And… in the meantime?  While they wait?  And who gets to decide what happens?]

Dr. J. Scott Ries, a board-certified family physician and a vice president of ministry at the 16,000-member Christian Medical Association, said the rule change touched on areas of “critical concern for pro-life patients, healthcare professionals and institutions.”

“The administration has made changes in a vital civil rights regulation without evidence or justification,” Dr. Ries said. He criticized the regulatory action as a move that “diminishes the civil rights that protect conscientious physicians and other healthcare professionals against discrimination.

Remember this?  At Notre Shame?


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. MarkJ says:

    POTUS in Latin means “drink”. So then, Obama is the drink this nation chose 2 years ago. But just what were we as a society thirsting for, when we should have been thirsting for the Living Water which only Jesus can provide? Cup of Wrath, anyone?

  2. TNCath says:

    The “Final Rule” sounds a lot like Hilter’s “Final Solution” regarding the Jews. This time it seems to be the Catholics’ turn.

  3. Supertradmum says:

    It is already the law in Illinois that all pharmacists must pass out contraceptives and abortifacients. Those who voted in this man and allowed the nation to become so blaze about health care will have to put up with those who have no conscience for their doctors. The end of many of our lives will be in the hands of those who simply do not have any moral framework except the philosophy of utilitarianism. Pragmatists in the medical field will dictate who lives and who dies.

    Are we surprised? No, but it is all happening so fast, those against it have been caught unaware.

  4. EXCHIEF says:

    Obama, and the CINO Sebelius, along with many others in this regime are agenda driven, anti life, liars. Different day, same story.

  5. EXCHIEF says:

    Obama, and the CINO Sebelius, along with many others in this regime are agenda driven, anti life, liars. Different day, same story.

  6. Marc says:

    “And that’s why Sr. Carol Keehan is NCR’s person of the year for 2010.”

    Thank you Magisterium of Nuns and NCFR. (They might want to trade in their crucifixes for swastikas).

  7. Supertradmum says:

    And, rather than blame the nuns and priests, I blame the laypeople as well, for not raising their children with a moral framework with which they could judge these things, if they could think. The last two generations have not, on the whole, been taught rational discourse, cannot pull apart good arguments from faulty ones, and tend to be so individualistic and narcissistic as to be apathetic to such draconian changes. A la Wisconsin, no one understands “the common good” or what it means to be a good citizen. The “entitlement generation” is giddy with “I want this” and “I deserve that”. Sibelius and crew are part of that mindset and ideologically, I am afraid, lust after the power such narcissism gives them. It will take a disaster to wake up the young uns, those in medical school, who do not really understand that they will not be able to say “no” and keep their jobs. The Catholic hospitals will disappear, and those who so desire control will have it-such is this event telling us and the events in Madison, the city of those who take offense easily at anything which seems to deal with their personal rights. Can we not see that all these events are connected? The social engineering of the last fifty years of public education has created the Me Monster and Sibelius plays the tune these people dance to…..

  8. POTUS in Latin means “drink”. So then, Obama is the drink this nation chose 2 years ago.

    Yeah. Kool-Aid.

  9. WBBritton says:

    I am a physician, and I will never practice medicine against my conscience as it has been formed by Holy Church. The president and his supporters do not frighten me. If God be for us, who can be against us?

  10. Stvsmith2009 says:

    For the life of me, I do not understand why anyone believes anything that comes out of Obama’s mouth. He is the consummate politician…saying what is “appropriate” to say in front of whatever group he is addressing at the time. I am proud to say I did not vote for this man, and I will not vote for him ever. He said of Pennsylvanians that they are bitter and “cling to their guns and religion”. I feel that he has a deep dislike and mistrust of anyone with any religious convictions. When quoting from the Declaration of Independence on three different occasions he has been unwilling to say “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”, choosing to omit “by their Creator” instead. I do not trust any man or any woman who not only has shown contempt for faith, but especially contempt for the faith, religious convictions and morals of others.

  11. Jenny bag of donuts says:

    Well, many Pennsylvanians are miserable at any rate.

  12. carolg says:

    I still shudder, I cannot listen to that and all the ppl applauding his words. During that speech, I was in the Notre Dame grotto, attending the graduation of the prolife students. It was the most beautiful graduation I every witnessed. It was a privilege to be there, a day I will never forget.

  13. Supertradmum says:

    By the way, the reason Sibelius can do this is that it is probably part of the Health Care Bill with regard to funding, which no one has read in its entirety. What else is she allowed to do, I wonder?

  14. I can’t wait for Obama’s Final Day in office.

  15. KevinSymonds says:

    The operative word there, Fr. Z., is and always was “sensible.”

    He who defines the term wins the debate.

    Considering Obama’s background, what do people think he meant by “sensible?”


  16. Bill F says:

    “Final Rule” is a legal term of art. It refers to a rule or regulation on which the revision period and the period of public comment have closed. Before that, it would have been called a Proposed Rule. Every federal agency would use the same term for such a rule. Sorry to rain on anyone’s parade.

    (And yes, I think the rule is a terrible one.)

  17. Titus says:

    I’ve never understood the need for some of these laws and regulations. It’s easy to see how a nurse, for instance, would need them: nurses are employees who follow the directions of superiors and of physicians. It’s also easy to see how interns, residents, and other lower-rung doctors and students would need them, because they too work for hospitals and follow instructions. And I can see how it would be good to have a rule saying that a hospital could not refuse a doctor admitting privileges simply because he declines to perform or refer certain procedures.

    What I can’t understand is why hospitals, private medical practices, and pharmacists need them. If someone walks into my law office and says “I want to get a divorce,” our receptionist informs the inquirer that we simply don’t provide that manner of legal services. Likewise, I imagine that if one walked into an ear, nose, & throat practice and tried to make an appointment for an appendectomy, that one would get a similar response. Ditto again if you walk into Walgreens and try to buy Louis Vitton luggage. So why, in the name of all the saints, can’t a pharmacy simply not stock contraceptives, the same way it doesn’t stock antique drugs or leather goods? Why do we presume that a medical professional in this situation is merely a machine that does whatever we want?

    Hospitals and private doctors only seem to need such protections if federal funds are tied to a requirement that they perform the services in question, which in itself is ludicrous regardless of the moral quality of the procedure. Imagine if a law said “no Medicare funds for a doctor unless he performs tonsillectomies”; now just imagine a tonsillectomy was murder.

  18. If Sebelius had lived in the land of Goshen, she’d be the one persecuting the midwives and trying to kill Baby Moses. She would totally support the Pharaoh’s health care laws.

  19. robtbrown says:

    Presumably, Kathleen Sibelius is the kind of Catholic that FrJim 4321 is worried will leave the Church.

  20. robtbrown says:

    Supertradmum says:

    By the way, the reason Sibelius can do this is that it is probably part of the Health Care Bill with regard to funding, which no one has read in its entirety. What else is she allowed to do, I wonder?

    It’s probably not hidden in the bill. Generally, this type of legislation gives the power to the Executive Branch to produce regulations.

  21. Denis says:

    Isn’t this grounds for excommunicating Sebelius?

  22. Supertradmum says:

    The excommunication for the laity is specifically for aiding and abetting abortions, having abortions, or supporting abortions. As she is pro-abortion, Sibelius has already incurred an automatic excommunication, as have all those who fall into that category. Technically, excommunication is not the same as living in mortal sin, according to Canon Law, which specifically highlights various sins leading to excommunication. The effect re: grace may be similar, but the state is not the same. An automatic excommunication is for desecrating the Eucharist, the above mentioned, and apostasy, for a lay person. There are more causes of excommunication for a priest.

  23. Supertradmum says:


    Thanks for the legal explanation. I am sure you are correct after looking at previous statements from other Secretaries, etc.

  24. PostCatholic says:

    Just a point of information and please don’t assume that I’m not sympathetic to your views. What, substantively, is missing from the new regulation that existed under the temporary rules? It would be helpful to me to know.

  25. Denis says:

    It’s not just that she’s a “Catholic” pro-abortion politician. They’re a dime a dozen. She’s actively promoting legislation that will lead to the persecution of the Church. I’m no Canon Law expert, nor do I play one on the blogosphere, but, from my amateur’s perspective, that seems to take things to another level.

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