HSS Issues Proposed Conscience Rules

Adelle M. Banks | Religion News Service | Monday, August 25, 2008

HSS Issues Proposed Conscience Rules

August 25, 2008

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued proposed rules on protecting health care workers who object to performing certain procedures -- including abortion -- for religious or moral reasons.

"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 when he released the proposed regulation Thursday (Aug. 21).

The 42-page document is available for public comment for the next 30 days, and organizations on both sides of the abortion issue are urging their supporters to contact HHS.

"Planned Parenthood continues to be concerned that the Bush administration's proposed regulation poses a serious threat to women's health care by limiting the rights of patients to receive complete and accurate health information and services," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops urged abortion opponents to thank Leavitt for his action, and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said the proposal will "help protect religious organizations and individuals."

"These regulations are desperately needed to protect First Amendment rights and implement federal law in what is becoming a jungle of coercion," said Dr. David Stevens, CEO of the Christian Medical Association.

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