Congressman Chris Murphy (D-CT) is championing his support of what’s called the Protecting Patient and Health Care Act of 2009.  From his website:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With the clock ticking down on the implementation of a sweeping Bush Administration rule that will deny vital health services to Americans, today Congressman Chris Murphy (CT-5) joined a group of colleagues to introduce the Protecting Patient and Health Care Act of 2009 to stop it.

In late December, the Bush Administration finalized the "refusal clause", which would cut off federal funding for any state or local government, hospital, health plan, clinic, or other entity that does not accommodate employees who refuse to participate in care that they find ethically, morally, or religiously objectionable. Set to take affect on Sunday, this sweeping change in access to vital health services, including birth control, abortion, HIV and STI testing, end of life care, and fertilization treatments, trumps current practices that accommodate health care providers’ religious beliefs while also providing their patients with access to care. It even goes as far as to allow whole hospitals or health plans to refuse services even if individual doctors and providers are willing to perform them.

What’s missing in this description is the reason the "refusal clause" was needed.  It’s really only emphasizing how the law currently is, because a number of court cases, and the judges of those cases, have shown that apparently the judicial system doesn’t quite understand the concept. 

I’ve touched on one example last August where a pair of doctors in California were sued successfully when they declined to give their services to a lesbian couple.  (Actually, they did everything but the physical insemination, which is all they declined to do.)  Acting as though they were the only option in the state, the couple took the case all the way to the State Supreme Court and won.  This was an elective procedure, and the State Supreme Court seemed to think they were obligated to do it if asked.  (And as noted in the original post, the CA Medical Association was on the side of the doctors until they got bullied by the gay-rights community, and they caved.)

So the action by the Bush administration was simply to reiterate that this refusal is legal, and put some oomph behind it.  The whole idea the people have no where else to go for these treatments, elective or otherwise, is absurd, but the danger to a guaranteed constitutional right is real. 

But Democrats, who insist that they’re just as concerned about religious freedom as anyone, put the lie to that by making the First Amendment a second-class citizen.

Filed under: MedicineReligion

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