The American Medical Association is no friend to medical professionals who believe a baby in the womb deserves the same rights and protections as any other patient.
This week, the AMA celebrated recent court rulings that struck down a new conscience protection rule for doctors, nurses and other medical workers.
Created by the Trump administration, the new Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rule provides increased protections for pro-life medical personnel by allowing the government to cut off taxpayer funds to medical providers who force employees to perform services to which they object.
The AMA, Planned Parenthood, other medical groups and liberal politicians in 20 states now are suing to block the rule.
In early November, District Judge Paul Engelmayer invalidated the Trump administration rule on multiple grounds. A few weeks later, another federal judge in liberal San Francisco also struck down Trump’s pro-life rule.
The AMA called the rulings a “win for physicians and their patients.” To most, however, it was a loss for religious freedom.
Together with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Emergency Physicians and other associations, the AMA filed a court brief in opposition to the rule.
The medical groups claimed the conscience protection rule “completely disregards” physicians’ ethical obligations and expands the rights of health care workers to “refuse medically appropriate care” that could jeopardize patients’ lives.
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It is important to understand, however, that to abortion activists, “medically appropriate care” includes aborting unborn babies for any reason up to birth. Thousands of doctors say killing an unborn baby is never medically necessary, but abortion activists are pushing the message anyway.
Last year, the AMA also wrote a letter to HHS opposing the conscience protection rule.
“We are very concerned that the proposed rule would legitimize discrimination against vulnerable patients and in fact create a right to refuse to provide certain treatments or services,” the letter states.
“As advocates for our patients, we strongly support patients’ access to comprehensive reproductive health care and freedom of communication between physicians and their patients …”
The prominent medical group claimed it does support some conscience protections, just not those written by the Trump administration. Conscience protections must “be balanced against the fundamental obligations of the medical profession and physicians’ paramount responsibility and commitment to serving the needs of their patients,” the AMA contended.
“One individual’s personal convictions cannot and should not be used to deprive another person—a patient—of medically sound treatment, information and services,” it continued.
Despite the claims of the AMA and other prominent medical groups, the expanded conscience protections are needed. Though laws have protected conscience rights for more than 30 years, a lack of regulations has resulted in confusion and little awareness within the healthcare community. The situation has made healthcare personnel vulnerable to discrimination.
The new rule clarifies what recourse is available to victims of discrimination under the law and what penalties the HHS Office of Civil Rights may enforce for violations.
The Trump administration said religious freedom is at the heart of protecting medical professionals who don’t want to be required to be involved in abortion in some capacity.
“This rule ensures that healthcare entities and professionals won’t be bullied out of the health care field because they decline to participate in actions that violate their conscience, including the taking of human life,” OCR Director Roger Severino said in a statement previously. “Protecting conscience and religious freedom not only fosters greater diversity in health care, it’s the law.”