Abortion proponents on Monday made clear their displeasure with the Trump administration’s proposed conscience protections for healthcare providers, saying in effect that doctors and nurses who have religious objections to abortion should be forced to participate in the practice nonetheless.
The Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) proposed rule, which largely reinstates a George W. Bush-era policy that had been scuttled by the Obama administration, is founded on a number of federal laws guaranteeing that individuals and associations participating in healthcare programs receiving federal funding — a category that today encompasses the vast majority of care in the United States — will not be forced to participate in practices to which they have moral objections. The deadline for public comment on the rule was Tuesday.
HHS quotes a 1965 Supreme Court decision explaining the need for such protections: “Both morals and sound policy require that the State should not violate the conscience of the individual. All our history gives confirmation to the view that liberty of conscience has a moral and social value which makes it worthy of preservation at the hands of the state.”
The abortion industry, however, will have none of this. As far as it is concerned, letting anyone opt out of performing abortions is tantamount to denying women the option of killing their unborn children.
Thus, Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, organized a comment-writing campaign, explaining on Facebook: “The Trump-Pence administration is trying to make it easier for a wide range of institutions and entities, including hospitals, pharmacies, doctors, nurses, even receptionists, to deny patients the critical care they need through a new proposed rule.”
“But ‘critical care’ it is not,” observed LifeNews.com. “What the abortion group really wants is to force doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other medical professionals to abort unborn babies.”
Planned Parenthood further argued that the rule “could lead to widespread discrimination in virtually every part of the health care system,” a message echoed by the pro-abortion National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), which claimed in a tweet, “This rule would allow religion or morality to interfere in the patient-provider relationship. The bottom line is that this rule puts patients dead last.”
On their website, the “intersectional feminist activist[s]” at NWLC maintained that the rule is just one of the many “sneaky ways the Trump-Pence administration is trying to advance their anti-woman, anti-abortion, and anti-LGBTQ agenda.” Women seeking abortions would not be the only ones affected by the rule, said the NWLC. “A transgender patient could be refused treatment for a broken arm,” the group alleged, suggesting that people with religious objections to transgenderism would also deny unrelated treatment to transgender patients. The NWLC declared that the rule is “about controlling and shaming women” and “using taxpayer dollars to take health care away from LGBTQ people and women,” adding a clip from the television show Grey’s Anatomy in which Dr. Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) says, “You get that we hate you, right?”
Both Planned Parenthood and the NWLC are essentially arguing that people whose moral compasses prohibit them from complying with requests for certain medical procedures should be compelled to violate their consciences. “Personal beliefs,” wrote the NWLC, “should never determine the care a patient receives.”
What they really mean, however, is that the beliefs of the patient should always trump the beliefs of his healthcare provider. This, of course, is preposterous. Suppose a patient sincerely believes his perfectly healthy left arm is the source of his migraines and asks his doctor to amputate it. Should the doctor be compelled to do so? After all, under the Planned Parenthood-NWLC paradigm, the doctor’s opinion that amputating the arm will harm, rather than help, the patient should not be allowed to override the patient’s belief.
The conscience protections of HHS are desperately needed because, as LifeNews pointed out, “There is increasing pressure for Christian medical professionals to not only assist abortions or perform them — but to refer patients to other people who will kill their unborn children if they refuse to do so.” (California, for instance, is actually forcing pro-life pregnancy centers to inform their clients of how to obtain state-funded abortions.) The Trump administration deserves applause for restoring these legally mandated protections.