Sweeping ‘Right of Conscience’ Changes?

The outgoing Bush administration is planning to announce a broad new “right of conscience” rule permitting medical facilities, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health-care workers to refuse to participate in any procedure they find morally objectionable, including abortion and possibly even artificial insemination and birth control. For more than 30 years, federal law has dictated that doctors and nurses may refuse to perform abortions. The new rule would go further by making clear that health-care workers may also refuse to provide information or advice to patients who might want an abortion. It seeks to also cover far more employees. For example, in addition to a surgeon and a nurse in an operating room, the rule would extend to “an employee whose task it is to clean the instruments,” the draft rule said. [… ] Abortion-rights advocates think it might be easier to get Democrats in Congress to reject the rule. Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., before being nominated for secretary of state Monday, and Patty Murray, D-Wash., have said they would move to reverse it.” [AP]