This is the most unconscionable of Bush's "midnight regulations."
The Bush administration, as expected, announced new protections on Thursday for health care providers who oppose abortion and other medical procedures on religious or moral grounds.
“Doctors and other health care providers should not be forced to choose between good professional standing and violating their conscience,” Michael O. Leavitt, the secretary of Health and Human Services, said in a statement on his department’s Web site.
The rule prohibits recipients of federal money from discriminating against doctors, nurses and health care aides who refuse to take part in procedures because of their convictions, and it bars hospitals, clinics, doctors’ office and pharmacies from forcing their employees to assist in programs and activities financed by the department.
This will have profound consequences for women's health. There is nothing here that doesn't bar doctors from refusing to deliver birth control, for example, or the morning-after pill, or even let someone know where those services or family planning services can be provided. As Hilzoy said, this is a lazy person's dream.
This is a wonderful rule for slackers, since it provides a legally protected way to get paid while doing no work at all. Here's the plan:
(1) Get an MD, and a job as a doctor.
(2) Become a Christian Scientist.
(3) Announce your religious objection to participating in any medical procedure, or to supporting such procedures in any way (e.g., by doing the other doctors' paperwork. This refusal would be protected under the rule.)
(4) When your employer protests, explain that your right to refuse to participate in any medical procedure at all is legally protected under this rule.
Voila: white-collar welfare! See how easy?
I guess that makes it the Bartleby rule?
If you're not totally proud of your country right now, I'll give you another reason:
Alone among major Western nations, the United States has refused to sign a declaration presented Thursday at the United Nations calling for worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality.
In all, 66 of the U.N.'s 192 member countries signed the nonbinding declaration — which backers called a historic step to push the General Assembly to deal more forthrightly with any-gay discrimination. More than 70 U.N. members outlaw homosexuality, and in several of them homosexual acts can be punished by execution.
Co-sponsored by France and the Netherlands, the declaration was signed by all 27 European Union members, as well as Japan, Australia, Mexico and three dozen other countries. There was broad opposition from Muslim nations, and the United States refused to sign, indicating that some parts of the declaration raised legal questions that needed further review.
It's a good thing we have a new President who would never validate anyone with beliefs like we see here with the conscience rule or criminalizing homosexuality. Oh wait...
(I should note, in the interest of fairness, that the Obama transition team is committed to reversing the provider conscience rule.)