Protections for Healthcare Workers

The Trump administration has announced broader efforts within the Health and Human Services (HHS) civil rights office to protect the conscience rights of healthcare workers who fear retribution should they refuse or protest being assigned to participate in medical services that are contrary to their religious beliefs.

It’s important to know that these broader efforts represent no new laws. Rather, they represent a change of attitude within HHS. Regulations put in place by the George W. Bush administration legally protected healthcare workers with religious objections to participating in such “services” as abortion or hormone therapy for transgenders. The Obama administration, however, severely curtailed those regulations, leaving healthcare workers vulnerable. According to an article by Politico:

“The pending rule would establish a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division of the HHS civil rights office that would conduct compliance reviews, audits and other enforcement actions to ensure that health care providers are allowing workers to opt out of procedures when they have religious or moral objections.”

Of course, opponents of conscience rights for healthcare workers are spinning this to make it sound like doctors, nurses, EMTs and others will be able to refuse to even participate in the care of LGBT people, or refuse basic care to women, as if healthcare workers have moral reservations about reducing a woman’s arm fracture, or administering antibiotics to a gay man with bacterial meningitis. The regulations protect healthcare workers from being forced to participate in procedures or provide services with which they have moral reservations. They do not protect anyone against providing basic healthcare, least of all emergent care, to anyone based on who they are.

These opponents talk about discrimination against women and gays by denying them “basic” healthcare. What they mean by “basic” healthcare is abortion, contraception, sterilization, assisted suicide, and hormonal and surgical therapy for transgenders wanting to transition, including children. None of this is basic healthcare. It is all elective. Opponents of the conscience rights of healthcare workers want to insist that, when you receive your medical or nursing license, you surrender your conscience to the state, becoming a tool of the state to work its will on the population.

But, we do not live in a totalitarian state, where citizens are mere cogs in the state wheel, obliged to place their brains, as well as their hearts, on a shelf outside the workplace door prior to clocking in for their shift.

This is good news.

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.


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