Feds seek to rescind 'conscience' rule for healthcare workers

The Biden administration has proposed to partially rescind a blocked Trump-era rule that would have withheld federal funding from hospitals that require workers to perform any service they object to, such as abortions, sterilization, contraception and gender-affirming care, The Hill reported Dec. 29. 

This "conscience law" was proposed under the Trump administration in 2019 but was blocked by three federal courts and lawsuits from states, cities and civil rights organizations, including New York, California, San Francisco, the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood. 

In a statement cited by The Hill, HHS said it would bring back the "longstanding process" for handling conscience complaints and implement additional safeguards to prevent religious discrimination.

"Some doctors, nurses, and hospitals, for example, object for religious or moral reasons to providing or referring for abortions or assisted suicide, among other procedure," the Biden administration's proposal said. "Respecting such objections honors liberty and human dignity. It also redounds to the benefit of the medical profession." 

The proposal continued, "Patients also have autonomy, rights, and moral and religious convictions. And they have health needs, sometime[s] urgent ones. Our health care systems must effectively deliver services to all who need them in order to protect patients' health and dignity.”

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