Thursday, March 12, 2009

What do you think of Obama's stated intentions to reverse the "Conscience Clause"?

When I got married, over four years ago (!), I wanted the program handout for our ceremony to be symmetrical, and so opposite "Maid of Honor", I wanted "Best of Man" to be listed. My wife vetoed the idea.

Speaking of vetoes (or the lack thereof), my Best of Man, David, recently sent me the URL whose landing page includes the following:
You have strong convictions, but President Obama says that doesn’t matter. He’s ready to rescind the Conscience Clause.

The Conscience Clause was implemented by former President George W. Bush to give physicians and nurses the choice to act according to their conscience — to not participate in abortion procedures if it conflicts with their personal convictions. If President Obama makes this damaging move, if he reverses the Conscience Clause, pro-life doctors and nurses will be forced into performing abortion procedures, despite their individual beliefs.

The announcement was made Friday, March 6, 2009. Since the official announcement was made, the public now has 30 days to file comments with the White House ... so we’ve got 30 days to make our voices heard at the White House.

- Be Heard!
My immediate impulse is to be absolutely repulsed by the President. He reports that he doesn't "presume to know the answer" to the question of when personhood begins, yet he legislated as if he did.

And now, not only is he permitting the murder of the unborn, he is actually mandating that medical professionals carry it out at the whim of their mothers.

But my secondary impulse is to get both sides; to investigate the actual legislation being opposed.

I've already stated my opinion that Obama's abortion policies are morally wrong. But I wonder: should we or should we not oppose this particular act? Not every single thing he does is going to be 100% evil.

Surely an intelligent, educated, compassionate family man with a personal testimony of how he came to know and be saved by Jesus Christ will do some good while in Office - even if he is wrong about abortion generally.

Given what I know of some of the Bush Administration's actions, I have no reason to assume that whatever it is that they passed was perfect and shouldn't be reversed. Sometimes they craftily pushed legislation through, whose abstract sounded good, but whose content was polluted.

So, it turns out that "Conscience Clause" can mean a lot of different things. So what is the real, actual issue in question?

I looked for a relatively balanced, brief news article on this and saw one including the following:
"We recognize and understand that some providers have objections to providing abortions["], according to an official at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The official declined to be identified because the policy change had not been announced. "We want to ensure that current law protects them.

"But we do not want to impose new limitations on services that would allow providers to refuse to provide to women and their families services like family planning and contraception that would actually help prevent the need for an abortion in the first place."

Many health-care organizations, including the American Medical Association, believe health-care providers have an obligation to their patients to advise them of the options despite their own beliefs. Critics of the current rule argue there are already laws on the books protecting health-care professionals when it comes to refusing care for personal reasons.

- By Saundra Young, CNN (updated February 27, 2009)
That sounds promisingly reasonable, actually.

So what I want to do is find out the exact wording of the legislation that the Obama Administration intends to reverse. Then I can see if there is anything in it that I think should in fact be reversed, and I can research whether any of the good things in it are legislatively redundant and whose reversal won't really matter. And I would like to find some actually clear, thorough, balanced, legal opinions or political commentaries on the thing. Then I will consider forming an opinion.

So, I looked through, US Code 42, and a bit and couldn't figure out which exact text the "Provider Refusal Rule" is that Obama wants to reverse.

Do you know? How can I find out the details of this thing? Why is it so hard to find the actual text that we're all arguing over, but it's easy to find hearsay and opinion?

Do you have any thoughts on this?


  1. Eeek, this is a tricky matter. has the following to say

    Of course, this would have to pass congress so its greater than just Obama. I doubt that you could get enough votes to make something like this go through.

  2. I do know that doctors and nurses could refuse to perform abortions before W's conscience clause. I'm pretty sure that the clause was mostly to protect pharmacists (or at least they were the controversial part) and doctors who didn't want to prescribe birth control of any kind. The really controversial part was that doctors wouldn't tell rape victims they could have a prescription for the morning-after pill at the ER or pharmacists would refuse to fill it. This is my experience with the bill. I think the key thing that informs my opinion is what I noted in the first sentence.


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