Bush Admin Officially Releases Regulations Protecting Doctors on Abortion
by Steven Ertelt
August 21, 2008
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The Bush administration officially released the new regulations on Thursday protecting pro-life doctors and medical personnel from having to do abortions. They enforce existing law by putting penalties in place for facilities getting federal funds that subject pro-life doctors to discrimination over abortion.
The new measure is also meant to protect medical facilities that don’t want to have abortions done on the premises.
Once in place, pro-life medical staff can’t be fired or deliberately not hired for refusing to be involved in abortions, and they can’t lose professional certification if they don’t do abortions or refer for them.
The need for the rule came when the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists considered requiring doctors to do abortions or refer women to abortion practitioners.
"This is about protecting the right of a physician to practice medicine according to his or her moral compass," Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt said. "There is nothing in this rule that would in any way change a patient’s right to a legal procedure."
The second comment concerns the accusations pro-abortion groups made that the proposal would undermine women’s access to contraception or birth control — even though the measure had nothing to do with those drugs.
"People should not be forced to say or do things they believe are morally wrong. In particular, health care providers should not be forced to provide services … against their consciences," Leavitt said.
Leavitt said the measure enforces three existing federal laws that provide conscience clauses on surgical abortions for medical centers and personnel and allow an opt out of dispensing the abortion drug mifepristone, or RU 486, and the morning after pill.
Leavitt said the measure is needed because existing laws are not always followed.
"Unfortunately, many in the health care community either aren’t aware of those statutes or don’t support them," he said.
Leavitt said the rule leaves out a definition of abortion that abortion advocates objected to — defining it as the destruction of a human life after conception and before birth — but that didn’t placate the abortion industry.
Roger Evans, director of litigation for Planned Parenthood, continued claims that the rule would infringe on access to birth control.
"It will have the same net effect, which is to set the stage for women being denied access to healthcare, women being denied information … and women even being denied referrals," Evans contended.
Evans said his group would lobby the health department to change the rule during the three-day public comment period.
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