WASHINGTON (BP)--Repealing a rule designed to protect medical professionals who morally object to such practices as abortion and assisted suicide would "rend the fabric of our democracy and open wide the door for discrimination," Southern Baptist ethics leader Richard Land has told the federal government.
"To compel or coerce individuals to sacrifice their core convictions at the altar of government contrivances is an offense of the worst sort."
-- Richard Land
The president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) urged the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) neither to weaken nor strike down a regulation implemented by the same agency under the Bush administration. The rule -- which went into effect just prior to President Obama taking office -- was issued to clarify that federal law protects the rights of institutions and individuals not to participate in medical procedures to which they object on moral or religious grounds.
HHS, now under the Obama administration, announced March 10 it planned to cancel the regulation. It provided a 30-day public comment period until April 9, the date on which a letter from Land was sent to the department.
In his comments to HHS, Land said the Bush administration's rule should be fully retained because:
-- It enforces a series of conscience protections approved by Congress between the 1970s and 2005.
-- There are increasing reports of health-care workers being pressured to compromise their convictions.
-- A lack of protection could drive pro-lifers from medicine or prevent them from entering the profession, causing a strain on the health-care system.
-- It will safeguard the freedom of pro-life patients to choose physicians and pharmacies in line with their beliefs.
-- It will protect religious freedom as guaranteed in the First Amendment.
The final resolution of the rule could affect not only doctors but nurses, pharmacists, medical students, hospitals and insurance companies regarding such practices as abortion and such products as the Plan B "morning-after" pill ... Read More