David Savage reports at the Los Angeles Times about some of Bush’s last-minute mischief.
The outgoing Bush administration is planning to announce a broad new “right of conscience” rule permitting medical facilities, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare workers to refuse to participate in any procedure they find morally objectionable, including abortion and possibly even artificial insemination and birth control.
Under these rules, healthcare workers not only can refuse to participate in abortions; they could refuse to provide information about abortion, or birth control, including morning-after pills.
The new rules appear to cover just about everyone who works in the healthcare industry, including pharmacists and technicians. Someone could refuse to clean instruments he thinks might be used in a procedure he doesn’t like. Wouldn’t this wreak havoc with hospital procedures?
Seems to me that this rule sets up situations in which everybody in the hospital is second-guessing the doctors’ orders. Remember the ambulance driver who refused to take a woman in severe pain from a hospital to an abortion clinic? She was promptly and rightfully fired and another ambulance driver was called. Imagine what would happen if every such circumstance required multiple phone calls and negotiations?
The ambulance-driving woman sued the ambulance company that fired her for discriminating against her religious beliefs. Part of her claim rested on her opinion that the drive to the abortion clinic was not an emergency. Her opinion. She was a bleeping ambulance driver, not a physician.
Already, pharmacies are refusing to fill birth-control prescriptions. There are documented cases of LGBT people being refused medical services and pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for antibiotics and prenatal vitamins because they didn’t like the clinic the prescription came from. And contraceptive pills are prescribed for many reasons other than birth control. In some circumstances a woman’s health depends on hormone regulation.
The implications of this nonsense go a lot further than abortion. If everyone in the hospital is second-guessing the doctors and deciding what tasks they will or will not do based on half-assed information, it could jeopardize everyone‘s health care.
There is a simple solution to health-care workers with a “conscience” problem — find another line of work.