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Obama orders hospital visitation privileges for non-family members

Catholic World News - April 16, 2010

In what is being hailed as a victory for gay-advocacy groups, President Barack Obama directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services on April 15 to draw up regulations ensuring that “designated visitors, including individuals designated by legally valid advance directives (such as durable powers of attorney and health care proxies), should enjoy visitation privileges that are no more restrictive than those that immediate family members enjoy.”

“Uniquely affected are gay and lesbian Americans who are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives-- unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated,” President Obama wrote in a memorandum.

At the same time, the effects of the presidential order extend beyond homosexual patients. The president said that “often, a widow or widower with no children is denied the support and comfort of a good friend. Members of religious orders are sometimes unable to choose someone other than an immediate family member to visit them and make medical decisions on their behalf.”

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  • Posted by: New Sister - Apr. 16, 2010 5:08 PM ET USA

    Are there not legal avenues already in place, such as powers of attorney, that could do the same thing? Have any hospitals disregareded powers of attorney in the past?

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