Those of you unfamiliar with Pharyngula might have missed a link from PZ.
We have a new euphemism and a potential new regulation from the Bush administration: “provider conscience rights”. What this is about is providing religious doctors with loopholes so that they can avoid responsibility for treating patients with the best possible care — so they can use religious excuses to justify neglect.
That’s not really hysteria on PZ’s part; there’s reason to be concerned. I looked over the press release covering this proposed change, and left a comment on the government’s feedback system. You might want to do the same. My message to the fed is under the fold.
From the press release regarding this proposed change:
‘“This proposed regulation is about the legal right of a health care professional to practice according to their conscience,” HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said. “Doctors and other health care providers should not be forced to choose between good professional standing and violating their conscience. Freedom of expression and action should not be surrendered upon the issuance of a health care degree.”’
I cannot disagree more, or more strenuously. “According to conscience” is Trojan language that essentially means “according to religious belief”. Despite propaganda to the contrary, the US is a secular nation. Science is an utterly secular pursuit. And medicine is science. Allowing a physician to object to a medical procedure on the basis of “conscience” is tantamount to allowing a biologist to reject the fact of evolution on the basis of personal discomfort.
This change is not an improvement. It’s merely an opportunity for some healthcare providers to impose their personal moral beliefs on patients, essentially taking on the role of passing judgment without having to live with the consequences. A physician who does not believe a given procedure is morally acceptable might want to consider changing professions to something more appealing to his or her squeamish nature.
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