Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Got Freedom?

It may not seem like it lately, but I like to keep things light on the old blog. Peppy, humorous, and, dare I say, fun?

Totally unlike my house these days.

I generally prefer to keep things unpolitical, mostly because I feel very deeply about certain issues, but I find that I have a hard time articulating that feeling. I am easily riled, and I am afraid my political posts end up sounding something like, "Oh YEAH?! Well, fine then!"

So mature, so illustrative of my ENGLISH degree.

But I am getting into the political weeds today, and I hope the Holy Spirit will fill me with the right words.

Have you heard about conscience protection for health care workers? If not, here's the skinny:

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is inviting public comment on a proposal by President Obama to rescind a December 2008 federal regulation regarding conscience protection for health care providers.

The 2008 regulation actually enforces three federal laws protecting conscience rights of health care workers, especially those at risk of discrimination because of their moral or religious objection to abortion.

President Obama wants this 2008 regulation rescinded. In plain English, he wants to take away the right of a health care providers to object to performing a procedure that he or she finds morally objectionable.

These providers will have to violate their consciences or leave the profession.

This encompasses Catholic hospitals that do not perform abortions, physicians and nurses who choose not to perform/assist in abortions, sterilizations, or other procedures to which they are morally opposed, pharmacists who choose not dispense contraception, and so on.

To me, this is big, and I'll tell you why.

Religious liberty and freedom to follow one's conscience are part of the foundation of our society. We respect people's right to conscientious objection for war, and for physicians opposed to taking part in capital punishment. How can we not extend this right to people opposed to abortion?

I've read that many supporters of this rescission say that this will improve a woman's access to health care, but let's be brutally honest here, that's junk.

I know many women, myself included, who have had to search high and low for a pro-life physician. Meanwhile, there are a dozen pharmacies in a ten mile radius that would gladly fill any prescription, and there is a clinic downtown that would help me terminate a pregnancy.

This is also big in a personal way. As I'm sure you know if you've ever visited this site, Rob is a physician. He has dedicated his adult life to learning about the human body and trying to fix it when it fails.

One of his greatest joys is getting to deliver babies, which is not something that too many Family Medicine docs do these days. He is always so happy to follow a patient from her positive pregnancy test through her well-baby checks.

He has performed countless ultrasounds, he has seen hundreds of babies leaping for joy in their mothers' wombs, he has spent many late nights, he has been hugged by hundreds of mothers, and he delights in that.

He has also had to tell ecstatic women that their beloved baby has passed away, or has a fatal birth defect. His heart has broken many times over these situations.

There is no way on earth that anyone could convince him to participate in an abortion. I know that as sure as I know my own name. He would never be able to violate his conscience in such a way.

And so that means that, should the situation arise where he would find himself with no recourse for conscience protection, he would leave his profession. I imagine that there are many others out there who would do the same.

As for myself, I would rather have a physician with a conscience who would refuse me a procedure, than a physician who would do whatever he was told by the government.

HHS is accepting open comments on this proposed rescission until close of business on Thursday, April 9th. The most efficient way of reaching them now is by email, so please make your voice heard. You can click on the US Conference of Catholic Bishop's link below, or you can email

I know my comments are still closed, but if you want more information, just drop me an email.

Conscience Protection