Conscience Rights in Health Care

Recently on Facebook a friend of mine posted an article pointing to proposed rules the Trump Administration would be releasing under the Department of Health & Human Services this week.  According to the article, the rules would give medical care providers the ability to deny health care to the LGBT community without fear of legal recourse. In the comments section of the post on my friends Facebook page a debate was sparked.  Would the new legislation lead to discrimination against the LGBT community? In true conservative form I proposed that forcing a religious individual to participate in a treatment or procedure that was against their beliefs would be discrimination as well and asked how those commenting would address that.

As you can imagine, I received a few interesting responses that mainly circled back to my being conservative and that I have no rights if I choose to discriminate against LGBT or support those who do. But let me take a moment to break down my argument as I wrote it on Facebook. Here is what I wrote.

First Post:

It comes down to if you believe your rights outweigh the healthcare providers rights who might have a religious objection to performing an abortion or treating LGBT individuals.

We all have rights, but this gets to the splitting of hairs that often is the end-game when dealing with identity politics and associated policies. I honestly can argue both sides.

Question is how would you feel being forced to perform an abortion if you believe it to be murder?

Why do liberals constantly want to force their choices on others? I do not object to anyone being LGBT. Go forth, live your life and be happy. But I can’t imagine being for legislation that would legally require someone else to compromise their beliefs because I believe mine are more justified than theirs.

This is simply allowing those who object the ability to opt out of a procedure or treatment. For every one who opts out , there will be one who will opt in and take their place. It doesn’t mean HHS will be flat refusing services to anyone but rather allowing everyone involved to have a choice.

How is that wrong? If you want your choices respected then you must respect the choices of others. It is not a requirement that you agree with them, but you get what you give.

Second Post once I was told I was discriminating against LGBT:

Interesting choice of word by saying “discrimination”. Here is a link to the legal definition of discrimination. It varies from sources slightly and some do now include sexual orientation in the definition.…

So making a choice based on a religious belief is not discrimination, but making a choice based off race is. If you include sexual orientation into your definition, as many on this thread likely do, then you now have a conflict within the definition itself.

So again, who’s rights win? The person making a decision based on life long religious beliefs or the person who has lived an alternate lifestyle for most of their life?

Who would you force to compromise who they are and why?

I find it interesting that here we are now two days after the article was posted and the discussion in the comments began that nobody has answered my question. I’m not certain they ever will. But not being one to let things go easily I did my due diligence and went to the HHS.GOV website today and found the PDF of the proposed rules as it pertains to Conscience Rights in Health Care. I will provide the link to that PDF at the bottom of this. As I read the document I came away with the following summary of services subject to these rules where a medical professional can refuse to participate in treatment or procedures:

– Abortions
– Training on abortions
– Assisted Suicide
– Counseling/Referrals (I.e. for abortions, suicide, etc.)
– Advanced Directives involving suicide

Additionally, again – as I read it, the rules dictate that the following services and/or funding cannot be withheld from a medical institution due to their religious beliefs:

– Prevention of a facility from receiving funds for HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria prevention, treatment and care

Then the rules went on to dictate that facilities cannot force patients to undergo the following treatments if they have religious/moral objections (except in those cases where public safety would be deemed at risk):

– Infant hearing loss screenings
– Vaccinations
– Medical screenings
– Religious non-medical care (I.e. non-medicated bandages, etc.)
– Cannot medically intervene on patients who are only treating with reliance on prayer alone for healing

Nowhere in the proposed ruling does it discuss protecting heath care providers from using their religious beliefs in order to prevent or deny care to the LGBT community, nor does it discuss preventing emergency medical treatment for them specifically based on who they are. Now, if an elderly LGBT person who is diagnosed with an ailment where they want to seek end of life advanced directives involving assisted suicide, they would possibly be subject to having that treatment withheld. Also should an LGBT couple for some reason choose to seek an abortion they too may be denied or have a nurse refuse to assist on the procedure. That being said it’s not like they couldn’t eventually find a facility, doctor, nurses who would happily help them end their lives or the life of their unborn child.

The point here is – they are not using this legislation as a weapon against the LGBT community in order to deny them health care. They are protecting the rights of the health care provider to not participate in practices or procedures that go against their religious beliefs. The Department of Health & Human Services is in no way preventing anyone from seeking whatever medical treatment they see fit as allowed by law (gotta keep it legal, folks!).

Now, that’s not to say there will not be people out there who may try to use this legislation to discriminate. I am not that obtuse. I am all too aware that there are people out there who, to put it plainly, suck. I also agree that both sides have rights here that are at play that deserve to be protected. But as the yet unanswered question I posted on Facebook asks – who wins?

I did find it interesting that the rule actually extends protection to patients and their right to not be forced to receive treatment if the recommended treatment should be against their beliefs. Obviously in situations where the public safety would be at risk there would be interventions made, but I have no idea how that would play out in court. I suppose that will have to be a thought exercise for another time.



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