U.S. issues controversial abortion “conscience” rule

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government published a rule on Thursday that it defined as protecting the conscience of health care workers but which opponents call a thinly veiled attempt to deny legal abortion and contraception services to women.

At least one member of Congress said she would immediately introduce legislation to reverse the regulation, which will take effect in 30 days under a process that bypasses federal laws.

The Health and Human Services Department said the rule merely reflected several laws that have already been passed by Congress.

“Over the past three decades, Congress enacted several statutes to safeguard the freedom of health care providers to practice according to their conscience,” HHS said in a statement.

“The new regulation will increase awareness of, and compliance with, these laws,” it added.

“Doctors and other health care providers should not be forced to choose between good professional standing and violating their conscience,” HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said.

The rule, published in the Federal Register here, will take effect just two days before a new administration takes over with Barack Obama’s swearing-in.

“It is outrageous that one of the Administration’s final actions on the way out the door will be harmful to women’s health,” said New York Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey.

“This rule would allow health care providers to refuse to provide birth control, or even information and counseling about birth control, to women who need it. When Congress reconvenes in January, I will work with my colleagues and with the Obama Administration to reverse this damaging rule,” Lowey said.

Members of Congress, women’s groups, abortions rights groups and others have been protesting against the proposed regulation since it was proposed in August. Debra Ness, President of the National Partnership for Women & Families, said HHS implemented the regulation anyway.

“In doing so, it ignored an avalanche of comments from the medical, legal, women’s and other communities — and from its own EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) urging a stop to these regulations,” Ness said in a statement.

“Reproductive health care is primary care for most women. The regulations the Administration finalized today will make it easier for providers to refuse patients vital health services, and harder for patients to learn about their health status and options,” Ness said.

(Reporting by Maggie Fox: Editing by Julie Steenhuysen and David Storey)

Source

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Related Posts:


NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Women who are the victims of domestic abuse tend to take their infants to the doctor more often than other mothers do, a new study finds. Knowing this, researchers say, could help doctors spot women who are at heightened risk of abuse from their partners. The findings, published in the Journal of

Full Post: Abused moms seek more medical care for infants
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, hampered by increasing globalization and a rise in complex products, may not be able to adequately protect the public’s health, the watchdog arm of Congress said in new findings released on Thursday. “As a result, the American consumer may not be adequately protected from unsafe and ineffective

Full Post: Report cites FDA’s weaknesses over drugs, devices
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Primary care doctors in the United States feel overworked and nearly half plan to either cut back on how many patients they see or quit medicine entirely, according to a survey released on Tuesday. And 60 percent of 12,000 general practice physicians found they would not recommend medicine as a career. “The whole thing

Full Post: Many doctors plan to quit or cut back: survey
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Almost 500,000 Australians will dump private health insurance after new laws, designed to ease the tax burden on families, passed through Australia’s parliament, Health Minister Nicola Roxon said on Thursday. The changes have angered the industry and weighed down on the shares of Australia’s top private hospital operators Ramsay Health Care Ltd and

Full Post: Australia says 500,000 people to dump health cover
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

By Julie Steenhuysen CHICAGO (Reuters) - An analysis of proposals to overhaul U.S. health care by President-elect Barack Obama and members of Congress suggests it is possible to insure all Americans without significantly raising total health spending. Some 46 million Americans, or about 15 percent of the population, have no health insurance. While Americans pay more per

Full Post: U.S. health care overhaul needn’t break bank: study

Site Navigation

Most Read

Search