Bush tightens legal chastity belt - what will Gordo do?

Kevin Kamberg

HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt today formally announced Bush Administration plans to impliment a controversial regulation designed to protect health care workers who object to abortion from being forced to deliver services that violate their personal beliefs.

The rule empowers federal health officials to pull funding from more than 584,000 hospitals, clinics, health plans, doctors' offices and other entities if they do not accommodate employees who refuse to participate in care they find objectionable on personal, moral or religious grounds.

"People should not be forced to say or do things they believe are morally wrong," Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said. "Health-care workers should not be forced to provide services that violate their own conscience."

In response to a piece at WWeek back in July after a draft of this new rule got into the press, Beth Slovic had a hard time getting the Smith campaign to comment on it. Merkley strongly objected to it right out of the gate and Senator Wyden signed onto a letter to Bush opposing the proposal. Presumably Smith was too busy hanging with his and Schwarzenegger's friends to be bothered with the minutia affecting the huddled masses. But eventually he dispatched mouthpiece Lindsey Gilbride to continue stonewalling but with words.

UPDATE ON FRIDAY: Lindsay Gilbride, spokeswoman for Smith, said there was "no real evidence it could be a reality ... so at this point, we aren’t going to speculate on it."

Gordon Smith's history on abortion speaks pretty loudly on it's own. But I think Oregonians deserve better than evasive double-talk from his mouthpiece Gilbride.

Comments

  • Gregor (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Maybe there should be a rider that demands purveyors of products/services to the public must provide an agreeable employee to administer things others find objectionable.

  • Rulial (unverified)
    (Show?)

    What about defense department employees who think the war in Iraq violates their conscience? Will they be exempted, too?

    By the way, this just shows how completely mind-bogglingly irrational the anti-choice movement is. By potentially restricting access to birth control, this could increase the number of unwanted pregnancies, and in turn, abortions.

    Democrats are about protecting a woman's right to choose and given women tools so hopefully they won't have to. Gordon Smith apparently fails on both counts.

  • mlw (unverified)
    (Show?)

    If a person holds a public license, they have an obligation to provide competent, legal services within their field. Public defenders don't get to refuse to defend clients who are guilty, but have a technical defense, just because they don't like defending the guilty. Nurses don't get to refuse to treat prisoners brought to the hospital. If doctors don't like providing services they view as abortion-related, then they have the option of practicing another type of medicine. There's a terrific court decision out of California that prohibits (on state-specific grounds, unfortunately) fertility docs from discriminating against homosexual couples. The same principle applies here - if a person holds a public license and offers services to the public, they should be obligated to provide competent, legal services within that field, regardless of their personal beliefs about the wisdom or morality of a particular course of action. A doctor who refuses to advise a woman with an unwanted pregnancy about abortion services is committing malpractice.

  • Bob R. (unverified)
    (Show?)

    "People should not be forced to say or do things they believe are morally wrong"

    Does this new administration policy of moral relativism apply to soldiers on active duty?

  • (Show?)

    Beth Slovic had a hard time getting the Smith campaign to comment on it.

    Local media shouldn't let up on this. It's really a very simple question: Does Gordon Smith believe that birth control is abortion?

  • Donut hater (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I think we should pass a law that allows those who oppose the sale of donuts, but work at a donut shop are not forced to sell donuts. I mean, why would we allow such a thing?

    The above rant was meant as sarcasm and nothing but sarcasm so help me Dunkin Donuts.

  • Bert Lowry (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Kari:

    Does Gordon Smith believe that birth control is abortion?

    Gordon Smith can't answer that question until his polling firm tells him whether he needs to shore up his base or appeal to the middle. If he's smart, he won't answer it at all.

  • Admiral Naismith (unverified)
    (Show?)

    What's next from the Republicans? Forcing pharmacies to hire Christian Scientists whose beliefs forbid them to fill a prescription for any medication whatsoever?

  • tl (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Let's get creative and protect all these oppressed groups:

    Utility workers into astronomy and therefore opposed to light pollution refusing to install street lights.

    End oppression of wedding musicians forced to play tasteless music ("Thank Heaven for Little Girls", "Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady", etc.).

    Unchain Buddhists forced to kill millions of precious lives employed as exterminators.

    How about downtrodden employees of insurance companies whose religion teaches compassion, but whose work requires them to initially deny all claims?

    And we cannot forget those unfortunate jurists who believe "judge not, lest ye be judged".

    These are few, and I'm sure the BO community has the imagination to come up with many more (and better) examples.

    -tl

  • JHL (unverified)
    (Show?)

    "no real evidence it could be a reality ... so at this point, we aren’t going to speculate on it."

    Ok Gordo, at what point does a policy initiative begin to warrant consideration? At conception? Or after it's actually passed into law? Because right now, the concept has the potential to become a law.

    TL, perhaps there should be a Gordon Smith Provision in place that says that Senators who are morally opposed to rendering opinions on policy shouldn't have to perform such services... even if they've been elected to do so.

  • Unrepentant Liberal (unverified)
    (Show?)

    "They may refuse to participate in care they find objectionable on personal, moral or religious grounds."

    That pretty much is so vague and so broad a rule as to constitute a recipe for total chaos in healthcare.

    I work in an a hospital Emergency Room and there is one fundi wing-nut MD I work with that, I am certain, has numerous 'personal, moral and religious' objections to many of the things he routinely does as part of his job duties. He is currently expected to follow the guidelines for treatment of injury and illness according to established protocols.

    What will happen to the "Standards of Care," that all physicians are required to follow if they are allowed to 'pick and choose' only those which don't offend something as nebulous as their 'personal' objection.

    WTF is a 'personal objection?' You just don't like them? You don't like people with tattoo's? You maybe don't like gays or non-Christians? Non-whites? Don't like people with piercing? Don't like the addicted? And as far as religious objections the Bible is chock full verses that can be misinterpreted to justify just about anything.

    The list could be literally endless. Perhaps I could use this rule to discriminate against wing-nuts? It might be my 'personal belief' that republicans don't deserve narcotic pain medicine for their trauma injuries, their gallbladder attack or their kidney stone pain.

    I wonder how much they would like this rule at that point?

  • (Show?)

    With McCain heading his party's ticket this fall, access to health care and individual rights to make family planning decisions are both under siege.

    The bizarre twin positions of the Republican party are to limit access to health care while simultaneously increasing government control over it. Both ideas are evident in this latest plan.

    If you want to retain the basic human rights to make your own medical decisions and to decide for yourself how many children you should have, then you had better vote the Democratic ticket from top to bottom on your November ballots.

  • (Show?)

    What's next from the Republicans? Forcing pharmacies to hire Christian Scientists whose beliefs forbid them to fill a prescription for any medication whatsoever?

    Exactly!

    I initially intended to wrap that very point into the post. But then I did something very uncharactaristic for me and went for focused brevity instead.

  • (Show?)

    JHL: Ok Gordo, at what point does a policy initiative begin to warrant consideration? At conception? Or after it's actually passed into law? Because right now, the concept has the potential to become a law.

    I'm definitely going to have to start paying closer attention to what you have to say around here 'cause that's an absolutely brilliant analogy. It's so obvious and yet I'd never actually connected those particular dots in quite that same way in my own mind.

    Nice work!

connect with blueoregon