A new rule at the DHHS could effectively bring our health care services to a halt. The new rule took effect in January and was put into place in the waning months of the Bush White House.
The rule could set a precedence for religious beliefs in publicly funded institutions which suspiciously seems to go against the spirit of the 1st and 14th amendment of the US constitution.
The rule is tagged : DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES 45 CFR Part 88 RIN 0991–AB48 Ensuring That Department of Health and Human Services Funds Do Not Support Coercive or Discriminatory Policies or Practices in Violation of Federal Law AGENCY: Office of the Secretary, HHS
The worrisome part is that medical workers whose religious beliefs would go against performing abortions, sterilizations and anything related to these procedures would be excused from performing them. But importantly these employees could not be relocated in the hospital to another department as this would be seen as discriminatory. Effectively, if there are no staff to perform the procedures or any part of it, even cleaning up the room afterwards, technically, then the hospital would not be able to offer the services. This could seriously limit access for women seeking these procedures.
Even more challenging would be a potential scenario where emergency room personnel who are currently required by law to advise victims of rape of emergency contraception may effectively refuse to do so under the terms of this rule.
Julie D. Cantor, M.D., J.D. In an article for the New England Journal of Medicine reported that "Lawsuits have already been filed in federal court, and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who led one of the cases, has vowed to continue the fight until the regulation is "finally and safely stopped." The fear is that remmnants of the rule may be left behind causing havoc in the health care system.
However, with the change in government, the DHHS is working on rescinding the law.
Please view the rule here and also register your comments DHHS rule