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It was a given that the Obama Administration would attack the “Bush Conscience Clause.” And that process has begun. But it may a revision rather than a rescission, and indeed, perhaps one I could support. From the story:

The administration took the step because the regulation was so broadly written that it could provide protections to health care workers who object not only to abortion but also to a wide range of health care services, said the HHS official, who asked not to be named because the process had just begun.

“We’ve been concerned that the way the Bush rule is written it could make it harder for women to get the care they need. It is worded so vaguely that some have argued it could limit family planning counseling and even potentially blood transfusions and end-of-life care,” the official said. After a 30-day comment period, the regulation could be lifted entirely or it could be modified to make the protections more specific, the official said.

“We support a tightly written conscience clause. We recognize and understand that some providers have objections about abortion, and we want to make sure that current law protects them,” the official said. “We want to be thoughtful about this.”
I too thought that the Bush Regulation was too broadly written—for example, it could be construed to apply to futile care impositions—and was disappointed in its lack of nuance. Thus, if the rule were revised, rather than rescinded, so as to protect health care workers who refuse elective procedures, e.g., not needed to protect the life of or to prevent serious harm to the physical health of the patient, and moreover, to ensure that it is the procedure (such as assisted suicide) and not the patient that is objected to, a better federal conscience clause could come out of this.

However: I think there is a more than even chance that the reasonable tone is all politics and will not survive the actual rule revision process. I will keep an eye on this as the bureaucratic process grinds slowly forward.

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