PROTECTING THE CONSCIENCE RIGHTS OF HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS
By Julie Grimstad, President of HALO
– May 2020
My original plan was to write about the many ways in which medical professionals who reverence human life are, today, being discriminated against for refusing to compromise their deeply held moral or religious beliefs. But who needs another depressing message right now? So, I searched for some good news and found it.
On the HHS.gov website, which has a great deal of good news, under the title “Conscience Protections for Health Care Providers” is the following information.
Your Conscience Rights
Conscience protections apply to health care providers who refuse to perform, accommodate, or assist with certain health care services on religious or moral grounds.
Federal statutes protect health care provider conscience rights and prohibit recipients of certain federal funds from discriminating against health care providers who refuse to participate in these services based on moral objections or religious beliefs.
You may file a complaint under the Federal Health Care Provider Conscience Protection Statutes if you believe you have experienced discrimination because you:
- Objected to, participated in, or refused to participate in specific medical procedures, including abortion and sterilization, and related training and research activities
- Were coerced into performing procedures that are against your religious or moral beliefs
- Refused to provide health care items or services for the purpose of causing, or assisting in causing, the death of an individual, such as by assisted suicide or euthanasia
The Bad News: A Big Bully Wants to Take Away These Conscience Protections
Ezekiel J. Emanuel, M.D., PhD., a very influential doctor and one of the architects of Obamacare, opposes protection for the conscience rights of health care providers. Considered an expert on medical ethics, he speaks and writes prolifically for both medical journals and general media outlets. The New England Journal of Medicine, April 2017, carried an article (https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsb1612472), cowritten by Dr. Emanuel, in which he prescribed certain unjust limits on conscience rights and proclaimed:
Health care professionals who are unwilling to accept these limits have two choices: select an area of medicine, such as radiology, that will not put them in situations that conflict with their personal morality or, if there is no such area, leave the profession. …Laws may allow physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other health care workers to deny patients treatment or to refuse to care for particular populations, but professional medical associations should insist that doing so is unethical.
Abraham Lincoln said, “To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards out of men.”
Remember how we stopped a bully on the playground when we were kids. We stuck up for our friends who were being picked on. Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other health care providers who refuse to violate their consciences, despite serious threats, are courageous souls. For them to be able to continue to protect extremely vulnerable patients (who may one day be you and me), we must speak up now in defense of their freedom to do what is morally right.
In today’s health care system, there are many voices like Dr. Emanuel’s. Ours must be louder!