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President Voices Support for 'Conscience Clauses' Ahead of Plans to Scale Back Bush-Era Policies

By Jacqueline L. Salmon
President Barack Obama said today that he still favors a "robust" federal policy protecting health-care workers who have moral objections to performing some procedures, even though he plans to roll back a Bush administration rule that expanded such protection.

Speaking to eight religion reporters at the White House before his first meeting with Pope Benedict XVI on July 10, Obama sought to reassure Catholic health-care workers that they would not be forced to perform abortions. Obama said he is a "believer in conscience clauses" and that a new policy would "certainly not be weaker" than what existed before Bush expanded it late in his administration.

Shortly after taking office, Obama announced plans to roll back the Bush policy, which would have cut off federal funding for thousands of state and local governments, hospitals, health plans, clinics and other entities if they do not accommodate doctors, nurses, pharmacists or other employees who refuse to participate in care they feel violates their personal, moral or religious beliefs.

But Obama's plans have lead to fears among Catholic doctors and other health care providers that they would be forced to perform abortions, sterilizations and other procedures that violate Catholic teachings, despite federal laws protecting their right to refuse to perform such procedures.

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Posted at 2:59 PM ET on Jul 2, 2009  | Category:  Culture Wars
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The conscience protections that were in place during the first 7 11/12 years of the Bush43 administration were plenty strong enough. I don't remember hearing anyone complain that they were being pressured to perform medical interventions they thought were immoral. There was basically no problem.

Then, after Obama was elected, Bush pushed through tougher laws that had problems of their own. He did it, I believe, simply to make Obama look bad because he knew Obama would have to rescind them. If Bush had tried to govern with the regulations he had stuck Obama with it would have been Bush who looked bad because some of these 'conscience' regulations could have been used to prevent people from accessing care.

The right wing of the Republican party knew that Obama would rescind the regulations and they were set to make a lot of noise to the effect that Obama wanted to force medical providers to perform abortions against their will. It was just a political smokescreen.

People who are dealing in good faith can come up with regulations that protect providers and, at the same time, allow women to access care. That way people can find common ground rather than trying to score political points.

Paul Bradford, Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

Posted by: PaulBradford | July 2, 2009 6:55 PM

you know, doctors will never be forced to do an abortion.

they can say "I quit this 250k a year job! I'm going to go work in the slums for 40K a year. I'm actually going to follow Jesus' teachings instead of being a prig!"

Posted by: newagent99 | July 2, 2009 4:11 PM

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