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Obama administration guts 'conscience clause' protection for health workers

Catholic World News - February 21, 2011

The Obama administration has rolled back the "conscience clause" protections for health-care workers that were instituted during the Bush presidency.

The new federal regulations, released on February 18, still protect health-care workers who refuse to be involved in abortions. But the rules do not protect those who refuse to provide contraceptives.

The new regulations will create severe moral dilemmas for health-care workers who believe-- as the Catholic Church teaches-- that the use of contraceptives is gravely wrong. The conflict could be acute in some cases, since the regulations would force health-care workers to dispense contraceptives that function as abortifacients.

Rather than condemning the new rules, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a measured response. Speaking for the bishops' conference, Deirdre McQuade said that the administration's move was "a cause for disappointment, but also offers reasons for hope regarding an emerging consensus in Washington on the need for clear conscience protections for health-care providers." She said that the USCCB would work to expand the "conscience clause" protections.

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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Jim.K - Feb. 22, 2011 1:37 PM ET USA

    Ah yes! We'll just put this into an "Executive Order." Then, when the political climate is better in a few years, I'll simply change it. "Change you can belive in!"

  • Posted by: voxfem - Feb. 22, 2011 9:52 AM ET USA

    Let's pray that the measured response means they are talking to those who make these decisions. I'm not sure how they hope to make things better when the administration has made a decision already, but maybe there is hope this can be reversed.

  • Posted by: mgreen32234 - Feb. 22, 2011 9:31 AM ET USA

    God help us. Are they reaching "common ground".

  • Posted by: DrJazz - Feb. 21, 2011 5:34 PM ET USA

    "...but also offers reasons for hope regarding an emerging consensus in Washington on the need for clear conscience protections for health-care providers." Why do people speak this way? Catholic pharmacists are going to get fired for refusing to dispense contraceptives, and this woman speaks of "an emerging consensus"? You've got to be kidding me. Wake up!

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