That’s quite a goodbye kiss George W. Bush just blew America (not to mention a big wet one to the Religious Right). This from the Washington Post::
The Bush administration yesterday granted sweeping new protections to health workers who refuse to provide care that violates their personal beliefs, setting off an intense battle over opponents’ plans to try to repeal the measure.
Critics began consulting with the incoming Obama administration on strategies to reverse the regulation as quickly as possible while supporters started mobilizing to fight such efforts.
The far-reaching regulation cuts off federal funding for any state or local government, hospital, health plan, clinic or other entity that does not accommodate doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other employees who refuse to participate in care they find ethically, morally or religiously objectionable. It was sought by conservative groups, abortion opponents and others to safeguard workers from being fired, disciplined or penalized in other ways.
It would be hard to overstate the damage this absurd regulation could cause. Let’s say, for example, you want to fill a prescription for birth control pills? Maybe you even view this as your right, given Griswold v. Connecticut and all that.
Silly girl. It isn’t up to you (or your doctor) at all: it’s entirely up to the personal beliefs of the pharmacist on duty. If he (or she) disapproves of contraception in general, or simply disapproves of you getting contraception — because, say, you’re unmarried (you hussy) — he has an absolute right to refuse to fill the prescription.
And you’ll be left with no recourse, except perhaps to fume, unless you’re prepared to drive from pharmacy to pharmacy (assuming you have that option) until you find a less “morally committed” pharmacist.
It’s a question of priorities, I suppose. According to Bush and his new regulation, the pharmacist’s ethical objection to, well, you know, doing his job is more important than your constitutional right to privacy, not to mention your dignity as a person.
Even more troubling, of course, is the impact this rule could have on the rights of rape victims, some of whom will inevitably face interference in efforts to obtain emergency contraception. Given the time-sensitive nature of such treatment, an arbitrary “act of conscience” by a key hospital employee could doom the victim to an unwanted pregnancy by her rapist.
But then that’s the idea, isn’t it?
And we haven’t even touched on the most absurd aspect of this particular act of Bush & Co. stupidity. Under the literal language of the regulation, birth control clinics would be prohibited (at the risk of losing federal funding) from “discriminating” against job seekers who have moral objections to birth control. In other words, clinics could be forced to hire and retain employees who refuse, for alleged ethical reasons, to carry out the basic functions of their jobs.
It isn’t hard to see where this is going. If the regulation stands, antiabortion groups will soon begin sending “undercover” job seekers to abortion clinics associated with health care providers that receive federal funds, with the specific intention of sabotaging the clinics’ operations. “It is going to cause chaos among providers across the country,” predicted Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood, quoted in the Post article.
But then that’s the idea, isn’t it?
Hopefully, Congress and/or the Obama Administration will find a way to quickly repeal this monstrosity. In the meanwhile, join me in praying for the rapid and safe arrival of the 20th of January