The Health Care and Conscience Debate
Engage, Vol. 12. p. 121, June 2011
7 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2011 Last revised: 18 Feb 2016
Date Written: June 27, 2011
Can a hospital require a nurse to assist in an abortion in violation of her religious beliefs? Can a pharmacy fire one of its pharmacists for conscientiously refusing to dispense the morning-after pill? During the Bush administration, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a regulation designed to protect health care workers’ right of conscience. But the Obama administration recently rescinded that regulation and issued a new one. This article first explains how the new regulation reduces protections for conscience; second, it rebuts the principal arguments against broad conscience protections; finally, it highlights where the next big fights over conscience will occur – in courts, state governments, the executive branch, and Congress.
Keywords: Health Care, Conscience, Religious Liberty, Religious Freedom, Conscientious Objection
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