Bush Admin Could Issue Rules Soon Protecting Medical Personnel on Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 18, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Bush Admin Could Issue Rules Soon Protecting Medical Personnel on Abortion

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
November 18
, 2008

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Within days, Bush administration officials could release the final version of new federal rules that offer more protection for medical centers and staff who don’t want to be involved in abortions. The rules provide more enforcement for existing federal laws that make sure staff and facilities can opt out of abortions.

Because existing laws have not been adequately enforced, the Bush administration, led by Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, put together the new rules.

They make it so any federally-funded agency, government or facility that discriminates against medical centers or personnel could lose funding if they have requirements to be involved in abortions.

The conscience clause policies have come under fire from pro-abortion groups, who appear more concerned about making hospitals and doctors do abortions.

Though the rules are meant to protect the “religious beliefs or moral convictions" of medical centers and personnel, officials from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are launching a last-minute attack on the proposal.

According to the New York Times, the EEOC legal counsel Reed Russell and two Democratic members of the commission, claim the rules are unnecessary and say they will be confusing to employers.

Russell told the newspaper that he believes Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 already prohibits employment discrimination and that the courts have defined “religion” broadly to include “moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right and wrong, which are sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious views.”

While that may be the case, doctors, nurses and private and religious hospitals have come under pressure to do abortions from state and local governments.

Leavitt told the newspaper that the rules were needed to ensure compliance with other federal laws that offer protection for medical professionals.

“Federal law is explicit and unwavering in protecting federally funded medical practitioners from being coerced into providing treatments they find morally objectionable.”

Incoming president Barack Obama will likely reverse the conscience protections for doctors and nurses who don’t want to be forced to participate in abortions.

That process for undoing the rule will likely take anywhere from three to six months — providing medical facilities and their staff some protection until the policy is reversed.

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