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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

No evidence, no matter: Hardly "restoring science to its rightful place" on conscience in health care

From an article I wrote for the National Right to Life News:
On February 18 the Obama administration gutted the only federal regulation protecting conscientious healthcare professionals from discrimination.

While three long-standing federal conscience-protecting laws remain intact, the conscience-protecting regulation had been promulgated under the Bush administration to remedy documented pervasive discrimination against pro-life physicians and others in disregard of the anti-discrimination laws.
U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius effectively eviscerated a sensible Bush-era regulation that had finally put teeth to bipartisan federal civil rights laws enacted over the past three decades. Those anti-discrimination laws were passed, all after the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion ruling, as a way to keep physicians, nurses, hospitals and others from being forced out of medicine simply for following life-affirming ethical standards such as the Hippocratic oath.
But abortion advocates hyperventilated when it appeared that those laws would actually be implemented and enforced by the conscience protection regulation, which took effect in January 2009.
Cecile Richards of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America had said, “It is going to cause chaos among providers across the country.”
Then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton had said: “It threatens the health and well-being of women and the rights of patients across the country.”
Of course, none of their doomsday predictions even faintly materialized in the over two years since the original regulation took effect. In explaining Friday’s regulation change, HHS presented no evidence whatsoever of any hindrance to any patient, procedure or prescription.
The complete lack of evidence didn’t seem to matter a whit, despite President Obama’s vow in his Inaugural Address to “restore science to its rightful place.”
The administration’s radical action again suggests tone deafness to the American public. Of the over 300,000 comments HHS received regarding rescission, twice as many opposed rescission as supported it. The Polling Company in 2009 conducted a nationwide scientific polling of the public and also of faith-based healthcare professionals. The results revealed that... (read full article)

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