President Obama Starts Process of Removing Doctors’ Protections on Abortions

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 1, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

President Obama Starts Process of Removing Doctors’ Protections on Abortions

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 27
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — The White House quietly announced on Friday that President Barack Obama is starting the process of overturning protections President Bush put in place to make sure medical staff and centers are not forced to do abortions. The move is the latest that will add to Obama’s growing pro-abortion record.

Existing federal laws already make it so doctors and hospitals are not required to perform abortions. Because those laws aren’t always followed, the Bush administration added additional protections.

Bush officials noted a pattern of grant recipients being unaware of or flouting existing laws protecting medical professionals’ rights of conscience. So, HHS enacted the new regulations to require grantees to certify compliance with them in order to receive funds.

In August, 2008 the Department of Health and Human Services proposed regulations to strengthen those existing laws. The regulations were finalized on December 18, 2008 and went into effect January 20, 2009.

Abortion advocates complained about the new regulations and made false claims that they would somehow deny women access to birth control even though the regulations do not limit or restrict any legal practice or product.

Three pro-abortion groups and pro-abortion attorneys general from seven states filed a lawsuit to overturn the rules and today’s news makes it clear the Obama administration is preparing its own move to rescind them.

Obama officials told the Chicago Tribune that they are opening up a 30-day public comment period, after which they will roll back the protections for medical personnel and facilities.

"We believe that this is a complex issue that requires a thoughtful process where all voices can be heard," one unnamed official told the newspaper.

The Obama aides indicated the administration will draft a new set of rules that will clarify, but also likely lessen, the protections and enforcement health care workers enjoy under the Bush rules.

Three pro-life medical associations banded together last month to fight the lawsuit from abortion advocates and the pro-abortion state officials. Attorneys with the Christian Legal Society and the Alliance Defense Fund filed motions to intervene in that and two other lawsuits filed by top pro-abortion groups to overturn the Provider Conscience Clause.

Casey Mattox, an attorney with the Christian Legal Society, told that the rules are needed so medical professionals have the security of knowing they won’t be pressured to participate in abortions.

“Medical professionals should not be forced to perform abortions against their conscience. Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and their pro-abortion allies are seeking to punish pro-life medical professionals for their beliefs,” Mattox said. “Far from arguing for ‘choice,’ these lawsuits seek to compel health care workers to perform abortions or face dire consequences.”

Matt Bowman, a senior legal counsel with ADF, also weighed in on the case.

“For over three decades, federal law has prohibited recipients of federal grants from forcing medical professionals to participate in abortions," he told "The arguments in the lawsuits themselves demonstrate lack of compliance with these laws and the necessity of the regulation they are challenging."

The Bush conscience rules were intended to educate those in the medical field as well as the general public about the rights of medical personnel to treat their patients in accordance with their conscience free from discrimination or intimidation.

They also give health care professionals recourse to the HHS Office of Civil Rights and a way to press charges in the event they experience discrimination.

President Obama has already upset pro-life advocates with his move to make them fund groups that perform and promote abortions overseas and by his appointing numerous pro-abortion officials to top posts.

Obama had been expected to wait to overturn the conscience rules until after he named a new Secretary of Health but that process has been held up because his top choice, Tom Daschle, had to withdraw and his second choice, Kathleen Sebelius, is under fire for her radical pro-abortion stance supporting late-term abortions.

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