Human Exceptionalism

My Two Cents Worth: I urge HHS to Revise, but not Revoke the Bush “Conscience Clause” Regulation

In my role as a Senior Fellow in Human Rights and Bioethics at the Discovery Institute, I sent a formal comment to the Department of Health and Human Services opposing its intent to revoke the Bush Conscience clause. Instead of revoking it, I urge that it be revised to prevent it from being relied on by physicians to impose futile care theory or other form of discriminatory refusal of care against the elderly, people with disabilities and the dying. I then suggested principles to follow to construct a conscience clause that is sufficiently nuanced and limited in scope to protect the rights of health care workers and prevent discrimination against patients. From my comment:

In revising the rule, I urge the following principles to be embodied into an amended Conscience Clause:

— It should protect medical professionals against being discriminated in their employment because they refuse to perform–or be complicit in, as in referral requirements–medical procedures that are intended to terminate the life of a human organism or human being, whether an embryo, fetus, or born member of the species. To put it succinctly, no medical professional should be forced to take, or participate in the taking, of a human life.

–It should distinguish generally between elective procedures–e.g., interventions not immediately necessary to save the patient’s life or prevent serious physical harm–and non-elective procedures. Refusing elective procedures should be granted greater protection then non elective procedures.

–To prevent conscience clauses from becoming safe harbors for discrimination, the requested procedure should generally be what violates the conscience of the health-care professional, not bias against the patient. In this way, for example, an oncologist would not be able to refuse to treat a lung-cancer patient because the patient smoked, nor could a pharmacist refuse to fill a prescription for drugs to fight AIDS because she believes the patient is gay.

–Finally, those covered by conscience clauses should be bona fide health-care professionals such as nurses, pharmacists, and physicians…

I conclude with a call to bridge the bitter divisions that are rending our society.

President Obama has made a point of declaring that his administration will seek to enact policies that bridge the cultural divides that rend the American culture. Revising the Bush Conscience Clause would accomplish this worthy goal by respecting the morality and values of medical professionals who, in good faith, disagree with the current course of law and medical ethics, while not binding professionals of different views from following the same course.

This last point, I think, is quite telling about President Obama’s pledge to bridge our differences. But this revocation, coupled with his actions revoking the Bush “alternatives” stem cell funding rule, demonstrate to me that he intends to divide and conquer, not compromise and heal. If the HHS merely revokes the Bush conscience clause, my suspicions will be more than confirmed.

Most Popular

The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead

The polling aggregator on the website RealClearPolitics shows the margin in polls led by Joe Biden in a blue font and the ones led by Donald Trump in red. For a while, the battleground states have tended to be uniformly blue, except for polls conducted by the Trafalgar Group. If you are a firm believer only in ... Read More

The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead

The polling aggregator on the website RealClearPolitics shows the margin in polls led by Joe Biden in a blue font and the ones led by Donald Trump in red. For a while, the battleground states have tended to be uniformly blue, except for polls conducted by the Trafalgar Group. If you are a firm believer only in ... Read More
Media

Jeffrey Toobin and Our Public-Hate Ritual

Oh, Jeffrey Toobin — let him among us with a free hand cast the first stone. Toobin, a writer for The New Yorker and fixture on CNN, was participating in a role-playing exercise on a Zoom call with his magazine colleagues, wargaming election-night scenarios. Toobin was standing in for the courts when he ... Read More
Media

Jeffrey Toobin and Our Public-Hate Ritual

Oh, Jeffrey Toobin — let him among us with a free hand cast the first stone. Toobin, a writer for The New Yorker and fixture on CNN, was participating in a role-playing exercise on a Zoom call with his magazine colleagues, wargaming election-night scenarios. Toobin was standing in for the courts when he ... Read More
Elections

Biden Is Still Underperforming Hillary

On October 20, 2016: Hillary Clinton was up 6.8 in the RealClearPolitics average in Pennsylvania. Today, Biden is up 3.8. (that race only tightened to 2.1 in the last week of 2016.) Clinton was up twelve points in Michigan on that day. Biden is up 7.5 right now. Clinton was up 6.5 in Wisconsin. Biden is ... Read More
Elections

Biden Is Still Underperforming Hillary

On October 20, 2016: Hillary Clinton was up 6.8 in the RealClearPolitics average in Pennsylvania. Today, Biden is up 3.8. (that race only tightened to 2.1 in the last week of 2016.) Clinton was up twelve points in Michigan on that day. Biden is up 7.5 right now. Clinton was up 6.5 in Wisconsin. Biden is ... Read More
Media

The Biden Protection Racket

Joe Biden is the most cosseted presidential candidate in memory. He’s run a minimalist campaign that’s avoided the press as much as possible, while the press hasn’t been braying for more access and answers, but eager to avoid anything that could be discomfiting to the campaign. Never before have the ... Read More
Media

The Biden Protection Racket

Joe Biden is the most cosseted presidential candidate in memory. He’s run a minimalist campaign that’s avoided the press as much as possible, while the press hasn’t been braying for more access and answers, but eager to avoid anything that could be discomfiting to the campaign. Never before have the ... Read More

A Few Cracks in the Progressive Wall

The contemporary progressive agenda — of, say, an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren — has rarely appealed to 51 percent of the American electorate. Most polls show opposition to Court packing and the abolition of the Electoral College. Voters don’t seem to like ... Read More

A Few Cracks in the Progressive Wall

The contemporary progressive agenda — of, say, an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren — has rarely appealed to 51 percent of the American electorate. Most polls show opposition to Court packing and the abolition of the Electoral College. Voters don’t seem to like ... Read More