Wednesday, September 24, 2008

LA Times Hysteria of Health Care Workers

The Los Angeles Times editorial board is all in a lather about a proposed Health and Human Services rule that "would require healthcare facilities to certify in writing that their workers do not have to assist with procedures they find objectionable."

The times hysterically hyperventilates
This isn't a matter of religious freedom clashing with private liberties. Healthcare providers who do not want to provide abortions or sterilization have been protected from discrimination by the federal Church amendments since the 1970s. This provision is an attempt to roll back the clock on reproductive rights to the early 1960s, when doctors could be arrested for selling contraceptives even to married couples. (It took an activist, liberal court to wipe out that anachronism.)

An early draft classified birth-control pills and certain other contraceptives as "abortions," saying they take "the life of a human being." That language was removed after an outcry, but the current version is almost as bad. It gives no definition of abortion, leaving it up to the individual provider. It's equally unclear what else might be morally objectionable. Providing HIV tests? Treating the children of same-sex couples? Giving a rape victim emergency contraception, or delivering life-prolonging treatments to seniors?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 98% of women of reproductive age in the U.S. have used contraceptives; the pill is the leading method among young women, and sterilization the preferred method of women over 35. But should Health and Human Services or the president permit this change -- congressional approval is not necessary -- husbands and wives would share the decision about whether to have children with a pharmacist at a CVS, a volunteer at a federally funded clinic or a second-year medical resident. So much for individual freedom.
Let's take a couple of seconds to quickly disabuse the LA Times about something important in this last paragraph. The proposed rule is a regulation and ALL regulations, no matter what type they are, are subject to Congressional disapproval. All Congress has to do is pass a resolution disapproving of the rule--that is all, and the rule is done. Regulations are passed under a delegation of duty to executive departments to deal with the minutia of implementing laws.

But on the substance of the discussion. I would dare say that most healthcare providers would never be in a position to have to make a choice between the Hippocratic Oath and their personal morals. I would dare say that to many the Hippocratic Oath or similar oath is part and parcel of their personal moral make up.

See the problem with the LA Times and those who share the Times' "concern" is that they view healthcare as a right and anyone who practices in the field of medicine is therefore reqruied to provide services demanded by a patient with no questions asked. That is not how it works. These doctors, nurses and other medical professionals are just that, professionals. They have the right to contract to perform certain services and not perform others. If a doctor does not want to perform abortions, that is his/her right. If that doctor will not proscribe birth control pills to teenagers, that is their right. The patient will no doubt find health care providers who will do these things.

Just because a person is a health care provider doesn't mean they give up their rights either. The LA Times would have you believe that if it medical related then the patient's demands carry the day. Sorry, it just ain't so.

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