• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Removing Conscience Rights: A Dangerous Prescription in Health Care

    America is facing a shortage of qualified health care professionals, including doctors and nurses. The Health Services and Resources Administration (HRSA) has identified over 6,000 Primary Care Health Professional Shortage Areas across the country, with 64 million Americans living in them. According to HRSA, it would take over 16,000 new primary care doctors in these shortage areas to meet the need. The problem is even more acute in crucial specialties such as obstetrics and gynecology. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reports that almost one third of women in rural areas live in counties with no practicing OB-GYNs. Observers predict the current problems will only get worse, with some foreseeing nationwide shortages of doctors and other health care professionals in the next decade.

    Many factors affect the supply of doctors, including the aging U.S. population, low reimbursement rates paid by government-funded insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid, burdensome paperwork mandates, and high medical malpractice insurance costs. But astoundingly, rather than working to bring more people from diverse backgrounds into the medical field, advocates of abortion have gone on record saying there should be fewer, not more, doctors.

    The latest proof is found in the debate over the Obama Administration’s effort to overturn the provider conscience regulation. This regulation clarifies and implements longstanding federal laws prohibiting discrimination against health care workers who object to performing certain controversial medical procedures, such as abortion and sterilization.

    In a New England Journal of Medicine op-ed written in opposition to the provider conscience regulation, UCLA adjunct law professor Julie D. Cantor argues that, to keep our health care system functioning, conscience rights must be stripped away. She believes doctors who practice life-affirming medicine or who otherwise object to providing abortion on demand should be booted out of the medical profession. In Cantor’s view, physicians should be required to provide, counsel on, and refer for “all legal options,” even if it violates their deeply held religious beliefs and moral convictions. So, if you are a doctor or medical student who has “qualms” with performing abortions, Cantor has a simple prescription for you: “do not practice women’s care.” By Cantor’s logic, if you are opposed to euthanasia (now legal in some states) the answer is simply:: do not practice end-of-life care. In other words, if you happen to hold a view on ethical issues that differs from that of the official, state-imposed view—whatever that view may be, now or in the future—your only choice is to leave the profession or else face potential retribution.

    Apparently Cantor and others sharing her view are willing to live with the devastating reductions in women’s access to medical care, especially in poor and rural areas, that would result from her dangerous prescription. Even a small percentage of practicing OB-GYNs leaving the profession would impose dire consequences on patients. Existing shortages would be exacerbated as students avoided or were turned away from training programs in health fields where their views were unwelcome. Not to mention the fact that much health care in the United States is provided by faith-based institutions like Catholic hospitals, which would be forced to shut their doors or reduce services if conscience protections were removed.

    Unfortunately for patients, Cantor is not alone. Others, including The New York Times (which said in an editorial, “[a]ny doctors who cannot talk to patients about legally permitted care because it conflicts with their values should give up the practice of medicine”) have made public statements or taken actions reflecting this disturbing viewpoint . By proposing to overturn regulations protecting the conscience rights of health care providers, the Obama Administration is moving in a very troubling direction on health care issues and leaving doctors and nurses open to attack on account of their beliefs.

    No one should be forced to violate their conscience. Now is the time to protect conscience rights and encourage caring individuals of all faiths and backgrounds to seek careers in the health professions. Let the Department of Health and Human Services know of your support for regulations protecting conscience rights in the health care work place by visiting www.adoctorsright.com and sending your comment before April 9.

    Posted in Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to Removing Conscience Rights: A Dangerous Prescription in Health Care

    1. Steven Ertelt says:

      Excellent post. For more info on this and how you can respond, visit http://www.lifenews.com/nat4898.html

    2. Barb -mn says:

      All in effort to diminish Christianity.

    3. Pam Morello says:

      One of the greatest gifts a human being has is conscience. It is the one attribute that separates us from other species and forms of life. One of the greatest resposibilities of a human being is the forming a right conscience and then exercising it. In our country, we judge the criminal elements of our society and often determine their just punishments on their lack of conscience and lack of remorse which can only flow from conscience. I find it particularly odd, that now our President wants to punish those who exercise their right to follow their conscience formed by their convictions and beliefs. I implore you, to allow physicians and health care practicioners to follow and act qccording to their conscience. Thank you for your time and consideration.

    4. Pingback: digg » Blog Archive » Roundup: New Members of the Faith-Based Initiatives Council Announced

    5. Helen Bieker says:

      I work in the health Care field and urge you to please oppose lifting our right to follow our God given right to follow our well formed conscience. Our country is in dire need of people who really are about the value of life. Taking away this right will bring disaster to our Health Care in America. Please.

    6. Dawn Asper, Newport, says:

      When the medical profession allowed abortion into its (lucrative) practices, and then euthanasia, it invited this sad state of affairs on all its many ethical members.

      As for the shortage, as long as the medical schools take large contributions from pharmaceutical companies, we will remain in "sickness management" mode, and no amount of doctors providing sickness management will ever be enough.

      There is no money in being a GP in the medical profession, by comparison with specialties, because the GP often must spend more time with the patient and reimbursement is based more on procedure and diagnosis. But alas, it looks like we are in for another federal gov't program to "save" us. There is a suggestion afloat that the gov't give incentives ($$) for medical students to become GPs, so there will be one more thing to add to the cost of our sickness management system.

      I know of a chiropractic college that initiated measures about 20 years ago to begin training their doctors to address the typical cases a general practitioner sees. This was in response to the high specialization pathway of medicine and the already dwindling GP numbers. Other colleges have followed suit. Naturopathy has made significant contributions as well. In keeping with the socialism pathway of this Administration, I fear we will continue to ignore health innovators who would bring us back to common sense principles and will instead opt for gov't inducements. Besides, the chiropractic oath would not abide abortion and chiropractic physicians still take the oath. Once abortion and euthanasia became part of medical practice in many places, the Hippocratic oath was eliminated or modified for political correctness. Again, once compromise is allowed in, we start down the proverbial slippery slope.

      No one can legislate away conscience. We must simply stand fast. No, it's not fair, but we knew we would be marginalized. We can and must protest–as conscience of the State–but we don't look to gov't for our salvation.

    7. Pingback: Forced Abortion in the U.S. | Welcome to Joyce Hunter's world...

    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.