Monday, March 22, 2010
CMA physicians: Without strong conscience protections, bill imperils poor patients
Christian Medical Association news release: Washington, DC, March 22, 2010--The nation's largest association of faith-based physicians, the 17,000-member Christian Medical Association (CMA, www.cmda.org), today lamented the passage of a sweeping healthcare overhaul bill that lacks strong conscience protections, saying the gap could lead to a crisis of health care for poor patients.
"Millions of poor patients and those in medically underserved areas currently depend on care from faith-based hospitals, clinics and physicians who follow life-affirming ethical standards such as those found in the Hippocratic oath and the Judeo-Christian Scriptures," noted CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens.
"National polling reveals that 95 percent of faith-based physicians say they will be forced to leave medicine without conscience protections. Since the bill passed by Congress does not include strong conscience protections, it opens the door to an increase in discrimination against physicians, hospitals and clinics that decline to participate in abortion and other morally controversial procedures."
While several longstanding federal laws passed on a bipartisan basis over the past 35 years have offered strong conscience protections, President Obama has announced plans to rescind the only federal regulation that implements those laws. The Senate bill passed by the House on Sunday does not prohibit discrimination by the government or healthcare facilities against healthcare professionals who attempt to follow their conscience on abortion and other morally controversial procedures. The Senate had declined to pass a strong conscience-protecting amendment offered by one of its two physicians, Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn.
Dr. Stevens added, "The last-minute deal for an Executive Order relating to abortion and conscience—the deal that changed the 'No' votes of pro-life Democrats to 'Yes'--was like trading a birthright for a mess of pottage. The executive order, which added no additional conscience protections whatsoever, can be changed tomorrow by this President, or later by any subsequent President, with the stroke of a pen. The healthcare bill, meanwhile, becomes permanent law."
CMA summarized its position on other aspects of the healthcare bill, including government funding of abortion, in a recent letter to Congress. CMA also coordinates the Freedom2Care (www.Freedom2Care.org) coalition of 50 organizations supporting conscience rights in health care.
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