Bush Admin Helps Pro-Life Doctors, Nurses Avoid Abortion Discrimination

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 15, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Bush Admin Helps Pro-Life Doctors, Nurses Avoid Abortion Discrimination

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
July 15
, 2008

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The Bush administration is continuing its efforts to help pro-life doctors and nurses avoid employment discrimination when it comes to opting out of participating in abortions. The Department of Health and Human Services has drafted new tentative rules that would guide hiring decisions.

The idea is to require hospitals and other medical facilities that receive federal funding to guarantee that they will not refuse to hire medical staff who refuse to participate in abortions.

The facilities would be required to sign written certifications as a prerequisite for receiving the federal funds.

The rules would go further and require state and local governments receiving federal funding to certify as well that they won’t discriminate against hospitals and medical facilities that don’t do abortions when making grant considerations with federal monies.

The New York Times obtained a copy of the proposed rules and HHS officials say they’re necessary to ensure federal funds do not "support morally coercive or discriminatory practices or policies in violation of federal law.”

The Bush administration also said the rules are based on legislation Congress has already approved to protect pro-life medical personnel.

Since the laws are often ignored, the rules would draw attention to them.

They would allow the administration to cut off federal aid to entities that discriminate against people who object to abortion based on “religious beliefs or moral convictions.”

Dr. David Stevens, the head of the 13,000-member Christian Medical Association, told LifeNews.com that he’s pleased President Bush is moving ahead with protections for pro-life doctors and nurses.

"It’s high time that the will of the people, as expressed over the past 35 years through laws passed by Congress, finally be translated into practical healthcare regulations," he said.

"Americans on all sides of controversial issues such as abortion, reproductive technologies and assisted suicide can appreciate the need to protect everyone’s First Amendment rights of free speech and religious exercise. That means that healthcare professionals must be free to follow their individual conscientious convictions on these life-and-death matters," he added.

Stevens said an internal survey of his group’s membership found 41 percent of pro-life physicians had been pressured to compromise their views on the job.

"Anecdotal accounts suggest that few persecuted healthcare professionals actually know their conscience rights and that they typically simply submit to pressure by resigning," he said.

"Unless pro-life professionals are equipped to know and apply their conscience rights, they actually stand at risk of being weeded out from the profession altogether," Dr. Stevens added.

The proposal is also drawing heat from abortion advocates because of its clear-cut definition of abortion — one that they say includes things like the morning after pill that can also work sometimes as an abortion drug.

The proposed HHS rules define abortion as “any of the various procedures — including the prescription, dispensing and administration of any drug or the performance of any procedure or any other action — that results in the termination of the life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation.”

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL, told the Times that the Bush administration is using the definition in an attempt to stop the distribution of birth control or contraception.

“Why on earth is the Bush administration trying to discourage doctors and clinics from providing contraception to women who need it?” she claims.


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