Trump Administration Puts Health Care Conscience Protections on Hold—for Now
Medical workers hoping to be able to avoid participating in procedures that violate their conscience, like abortions, are going to have to wait a little while longer. On Friday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that they're going to hold off on implementing a list of new rules that protect medical workers from being forced to participate in procedures that violate their conscience.
HHS's new rules, which have already been written, explain in the summary:
The United States has a long history of providing protections in health care for indviduals and entities on the basis of religious beliefs or moral convictions. Congress has passed many such laws applicable to the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS” or the “Department”) and the programs or activities it funds or administers, some of which are the subject of existing HHS regulations at 45 CFR part 88. This final rule revises existing regulations to ensure vigorous enforcement of Federal conscience and anti‐discrimination laws applicable to the Department, its programs, and recipients of HHS funds, and to delegate overall enforcement and compliant responsibility to the Department's Office for Civil Rights ("OCR").
Federal funding will be tied to compliance with the rules. And, frankly, these conscience protections are common sense and a long time coming. However, not everyone wants to allow healthcare providers the right to obey their conscience.
A lawsuit to block the rules headed by California and New York and joined by 10 other states and cities claims that the new conscience protections will, "[give] healthcare providers free license to openly discriminate and refuse care to patients."
That lawsuit is what has caused the White House to delay implementing the rules until this coming November. According to WORLD Magazine:
The Trump administration and opponents behind a lawsuit out of California mutually agreed Friday to delay a final ruling on the matter to Nov. 22. The city of San Francisco claimed that its healthcare programs would lose about $1 billion because of the rules, which were set to take effect Jul. 22. HHS called the delay “the most efficient way to adjudicate” the concerns, and a federal judge approved the decision Saturday.
Hopefully, this is truly a delay and not a precursor to the White House scrapping the conscience protections for healthcare providers.