The Trump administration faces a potential lawsuit from the state of New York if they proceed with their proposed legislation that would give healthcare workers “religious protections,” allowing them to withhold information from patients regarding different treatment options.
The legislation, called “Protecting Statutory Conscience Rights in Health Care; Delegations of Authority,” was filed in January, states:
The Department proposes to revise regulations previously promulgated to ensure that persons or entities are not subjected to certain practices or policies that violate conscience, coerce, or discriminate, in violation of such Federal laws.
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Translation: if your medical provider doesn’t want you to know about options for contraception, abortion, or anything they can pretend to have a “moral” objection to, they don’t have to tell you about it.
This would leave the door wide open for healthcare providers to make medical decisions for patients without the patients’ consent. As of this writing, we have a word for that: malpractice.
But that would change if this legislation moves forward and becomes law. [Fox News: Crybaby snowflakes whine that atheists bully Christians with logic]
Moves like this should upset everyone – including evangelicals on the religious right. It’s permitting the enforcement of the healthcare provider’s own religious beliefs and values on others. While that may seem fine for many who oppose abortions, what happens when a medical practitioner who happens to be a Jehovah’s Witness decides to withhold information about a potentially life-saving blood transfusion?
According to BuzzFeed News, numerous attorneys have already written letters expressing their dissent regarding the legislation:
The attorneys general also purported that the rule violates the Constitution in multiple ways. It threatens women’s constitutional right to abortion, the comment said, by enabling medical workers to decline to perform or give them information about the procedure. They also cited a 1995 Supreme Court case, Estate of Thornton v. Caldor, which determined that any law that compels employers to “conform their business practices to the particular religious practices of … employees,” violates the First Amendment’s “establishment clause.”
The proposed rule gives HHS’s Office of Civil Rights the power to investigate and enforce these conscience protections for all medical facilities and organizations that receive federal funding, including removing that funding if they find the facility in violation of the rule.
The attorneys general called this aspect of the rule “impermissible” and “coercive,” arguing that it was a threat “to terminate billions of dollars in federal health care funding if at any point HHS determines that a state has failed — or even ‘threatened’ to fail — to comply with the Proposed Rule’s extensive mandates.”
“It will needlessly and carelessly upset the balance that has long been struck in federal and state law to protect the religious freedom of providers, the business needs of employers, and the health care needs of patients,” the comment concluded. “Accordingly, we urge HHS to withdraw the Proposed Rule.”
Since religions are all equally man-made manifestations, who will be able to stop any medical professional from claiming that withholding information about treatment options is part of their personal system of religious beliefs?
By the same logic, the authors of this legislation shouldn’t have any problems with a conservative Islamic doctor performing female genital mutilation on a patient. After all, they can claim that the barbaric practice is part of their system of religious beliefs. I’d be willing to guess that the authors only intend for this law to apply to Christian medical professionals.
Look – nobody is telling Christians what to do, say, or think. You can believe anything that you want to believe. It doesn’t make sense, it’s logically inconsistent, and I’ll continue mocking bad ideas until the day I die, but you’re free to believe and practice whatever religion you choose. But your religious freedom ends where the rights of others begin, and prohibiting patients from being able to make informed decisions about their own healthcare options is an infringement on their civil rights. Healthcare should be a right, not a privilege.
The fact of the matter is if you’re a medical professional who has a personal “moral objection” to someone receiving birth control, having gender reassignment surgery, having an abortion, or getting a blood transfusion, then the medical profession is not for you. It is your job to provide healthcare that’s in the best interest of the patient, not to worry about what your mythical god will think about you administering a service that you took a sworn oath to provide.
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