• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • HHS Conscience Clause Regulation: Securing the Blessings of Liberty

    Never do anything against conscience, even if the state demands it.—Albert Einstein

    Individual liberty is elemental to what is means to be an American. But in recent years the personal liberty and freedom of conscience of our doctors, nurses, and pharmacists have been threatened. Although “conscience clause” protections have been federal law since the 1970s and strengthened over the years, doctors, nurses and other medical professionals have found themselves to be the targets of threats, including legal action, intended to coerce them into compliance with immoral and, and often, illicit acts. Today, the Bush Administration took action to uphold the law and re-enforce the protections for our health care professionals, an act for which all Americans should be grateful.

    The regulation tells employers in our $2 trillion health care system that discrimination against workers who refuse to participate in the performance or procurement of abortion or other unethical practices that violate their religious beliefs or moral convictions could jeopardize the employers’ participation in government funded programs. Since government programs provide about 45 percent of the spending on health care, principally through Medicare and Medicaid, but also through a variety of public health service grants, this is a powerful and important enforcement tool.

    The right of any person to act according to their own conscience is integral to what makes us human. It is indispensable to us as human beings, as much as oxygen. The right of conscientious objection is even protected in times of war for those who cannot use violence in violation of their ethical or moral convictions. Without protection for acting in accordance with one’s own conscience, there is and can be no individual liberty. Without such protections, physicians are reduced to mere body amoral mechanics.

    Opponents of this rule would do well to reflect and understand that the freedom of one individual cannot entitle that person to coerce or violate the freedom of another. Moreover, no person who coerced another for his own advantage can truly be free himself.

    The transition between the Bush and the Obama Administrations is a time for sober reflection.America is a rich, diverse, pluralistic society. What does it mean to be free as an American? What is our commitment to personal liberty? How sincere are we in respecting the convictions of others?

    The future of the Bush Administration’s rule will be a key test of the kind of country we are, and also a key indicator for the type of health care reform policies that will be pursued by the Obama administration. People of faith and the future of faith-based institutions need to know that their freedom is secure, and that government, which was designed by the Founding Fathers, to protect the personal rights and liberties of all Americans will not be a callous bystander when the rights of conscience of any American are threatened, including the conscience of those who serve in the medical profession who know that their mission is the protection and enhancement of life itself.

    When a state sets itself up as absolute as God, when it claims sovereignty over the soul, when it destroys freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, then the state has ceased to be political and has begun to be a counter-Church.—Bishop Fulton Sheen

    Posted in Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    10 Responses to HHS Conscience Clause Regulation: Securing the Blessings of Liberty

    1. Pingback: HHS Conscience Clause Regulation: Securing the Blessings of Liberty « Conservative Thoughts and Profundity

    2. Dennis Aderholt Soci says:

      Freedom is the building block of thsi country, when fredom is destricted to the point that it interfers with our moral beliefs and understanding we are no longer free. We become a part of the state, socilaism and communist in our form of government. Obama needs to listen to the people on a whole, not the minority. We have become a nation of being "political correct" to the point where people are becoming afraid to voice their opinion and live by their faith in God.

    3. Donald V. Koepp says:

      Health care personnel should not be discriminated against because they are against abortion. This flies in the face of the constitutuon which guarentees religious freedoms. Anyone trying to take these freedoms from the people, no matter their posistion in government does not beleive in the constitution or individule rights.

    4. Mary W. Kent says:

      The abortion debate pivots around the question of when life begins. My personal belief is that it begins at conception; however, only God knows the real answer. If we as humans are ignorant of the exact answer, we open ourselves to the possibility of snuffing out life by performing any abortion.

      The Declaration of Independence states that all men "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." As a society that holds life as a right, how can we in good conscience deny those in the medical profession from attempting to protect life? In refusing to perform abortions, they not only uphold the Declaration of Independence, but also the Hippocratic Oath. They should be allowed the right to protect the right of life.

    5. Olivia Ciambruschini says:

      These are my beliefs, but what good will do to oppose this when it will only be a matter of time before all medical personnel will be government employees. Who will stand up for your beliefs then? If you refuse to do what you are told, you can just be fired. All the letters and emails in the world will be a waste of time and resources and only a delay for the inevitable. I want to know: where is the AMA and the Nurses Assoc., and all other medical associates in opposition to the plans to socialize medicine in the US? I haven't heard ONE word from those who stand to be affected the most. Where is YOUR concience? We are in the midst of becoming like those countries in Europe. Have you corresponded with your peers in those countries? How happy are they? How well cared for are the patients? From what I've learned, not very well. Freedom of Concience is very important and I couldn't agree more – BUT you have to do your share too. When I hear some real opposition to the President's Health Plan, I will work to defend your right to Freedom of Concience.

    6. Donna Mize, Alpharet says:

      Of course Health Care Profressionals should have the right to act according to conscience! This right is at the very core of our freedom. We must recognize what happens when government is allowed to dictate choices…we become robots and puppets on a string, not feeling, thinking human beings that contribute to the betterment of society by fighting against injustices and promoting contructive activities that make a difference. We will become brainless, depressed,demoralized, pathetic members of society that have no purpose in life. Our spirits will be quenched and we will live in guilt and shame. We cannot let this happen!!

    7. Alyce Buckley, South says:

      I believe that Health care personnel should not be discriminated against because they are opposed to abortion.

      We have "unalienable rights to LIFE, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness". Doctors, Nurses, etc should be allowed to make decisions about abortion according to their consciences.

      Let's not relinquish the freedoms we love so much.

    8. Iris L. Perry, Las Vegas, NV says:

      When an individual becomes a health care professional, he or she does not give up the right to have and practice their conscience.Most of us would not want them to do so, if we stop to consider the consequences of having such a person in charge of our health care.Our government, as envisioned by its founders was never meant to be a collective conscience for we citizens, or a lack of conscience either. We, as individuals are on the verge of becoming an endangered species. The denial of person to act according to conscience in the practice of Health Care is both specious, and un-Constitutional. I plan to continue to write and speak out against this new assault on our American Freedom.

    9. Pingback: Defend the Conscience Clause | Adam Ex Machina

    10. Child Of The Ocean says:

      Unfortunately, this rule came under threat last year after Obama became President. One opposition to the rule was argued in the article: “Conscientious Objection Gone Awry — Restoring Selfless Professionalism in Medicine” by Julie D. Cantor, M.D., J.D., in the New England Journal of Medicine. I make a counter argument in the following blog post.


      Please read it and comment!

      Thank you.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.