Bush Admin Rules Protecting Medical Staff, Centers on Abortion Almost Ready

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 16, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Bush Admin Rules Protecting Medical Staff, Centers on Abortion Almost Ready

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
December 16
, 2008

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The new rules the Bush administration is putting in place to protect medical centers and medical professionals who don’t want to be involved in abortions are almost ready. The Office of Management and Budget has approved the "refusal clause" and now it is ready for publication in the Federal Register.

Once that happens, the new rules to provide stronger enforcement of existing federal laws — that make it so doctors, nurses and other staff can’t be forced to do abortions — will be complete.

Though the rules are coming under attack from pro-abortion groups as an expansion of current law, they simply revoke federal funds from any state or local government or medical facility that forces centers or staff to participate in abortions.

They also require health care facilities to certify in writing that their employees are not required to engage in procedures, like abortion, that they find objectionable.

With just 34 days left before the Bush administration concludes, the publishing of the new policy is expected shortly.

However, the rules prohibiting forced abortions may not stay in place for long.

First, abortion advocacy groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL will flout their "pro-choice" rhetoric and file suit against the anti-forced abortion policies.

If that doesn’t work, the incoming Barack Obama administration is expected to overturn the rules, a process that could take several months to complete. Overturning the conscience protections for medical staff was listed in the secret memo pro-abortion groups wrote to Obama that his staff posted on the transition team web site.

Mary Jane Gallagher, president and chief executive of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, repeated the pro-abortion talking points on Monday by claiming the policy is related to birth control even though HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt removed language from it in August pertaining to birth control.

"It’s totally a ruse. It’s totally a new social war on birth control, which I find ludicrous," she said.

Leavitt explained the intent of the rule on the HHS web site and said it was about "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."

"Is the fear here that so many doctors will refuse that it will somehow make it difficult for a woman to get an abortion? That hasn’t happened, but what if it did? Wouldn’t that be an important and legitimate social statement?" he added.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto also dismissed those complaints.

"Those charges are ridiculous, and they don’t know what they’re talking about. There’s nothing ‘last minute’ about it. We’re not starting it now. It’s coming to an end now," Fratto said. "The proposed rule will not in any way restrict access to birth control or any other health service."

Last month, Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York and Patty Murray of Washington introduced legislation to prevent implementation of the rule while Reps. Diana DeGette of Colorado and Louise Slaughter of New York introduced similar legislation.

"We’re certainly going to work with the Obama administration to rescind it through executive order, or we’ll work to pass legislation as early as possible," Murray’s spokesman, Matt McAlvanah, told the Post-Gazette newspaper.

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