Friday, December 19, 2008

"Right of Conscience" law now official

by Chloe Angyal

The Bush administration's "Right of Conscience" rule was officially issued Thursday, and it's implications are bad news bears. The WSJ reports:

"Critics of the rule say the protections are so broad that they limit a patient's right to get care and accurate information. For example, they fear the rule could make it possible for a pharmacy clerk to refuse to sell birth control pills and face no ramifications from an employer."
Awesome.

If I want to take birth control, guess who's business that is? I'll give you a hint: the list includes me, my partner, my doctor, my parents (maybe), my god and spiritual adviser (if I so choose). You know who the list doesn't include? The clerk at Walgreens whose job is now legally protected if she chooses not to ring up my Pill purchase. As in she can't be fired, even if she not only refuses to do her job, but also imposes her moral code on me.

Perhaps this rule won't have real practical implications. Perhaps in the counties where abortion, birth control, in vitro fertilization, blood transfusions and other procedures that some people consider morally objectionable are difficult to come by, tight restrictions on access won't be made any tighter. In this best-case scenario, access will continue to be just as limited as it is now, with these new laws failing to make those procedures any harder to come by - after all, if all the doctors in a county refuse to perform abortions, it doesn't make any difference if that county's receptionists, janitors and surgical interns also refuse to "participate."

But in the worst-case scenario, access to perfectly legal medical procedures will be even further restricted, with poor and rural women hit the hardest. Healthcare services that are hard to come by will become even less readily available, and the health of women and children will suffer as a result. Necessary procedures will go unperformed. Necessary prescription will go unfilled. And all those decisions will be placed not in the hands of the women who need them, but in the hands of complete strangers, like that clerk at Walgreens who - according to the Bush administration- knows what's right for my uterus.
In an even-worse-case scenario, Planned Parenthood and similarly pro-choice organizations would be inundated with job applications from anti-abortion and anti-contraception candidates, who, once hired, could refuse to carry out Planned Parenthood's mission and who would be shielded from being fired by this new law. That's the worst of the worst-case scenarios, and it's not hugely likely. It's improbable, but under this new law, it's also not impossible.

Maybe, the practical implications of the Right of Conscience rule aren't earth-shattering. Maybe, this new law won't worsen an already bad situation. Perhaps in practice, this law won't make any real difference. But in principle, that is so not a risk I'm willing to take.

3 Comments:

At December 19, 2008 at 9:46 AM , Blogger Sam said...

The good news: http://tinyurl.com/4f5ddd

 
At December 20, 2008 at 11:46 PM , Blogger Robert McGibbon said...

I want to make two factual clarifications. First, it's not a law as the post's title implies - it was not passed by congress and signed by the president - it's a "rule" according to the news reports.

More importantly, it doesn't go into effect until two days before Obama's inauguration, so it can definitely be reversed without lasting damage done.

I think that second point should serve as a call to action

 
At March 4, 2009 at 1:34 AM , Anonymous Manny said...

That clerk at Walgreens has a conscience too and it's not the business of anyone to force him to cooperate in making it easier for women to murder their children. yes, he DOES have a right to refuse to help out in any objectionable procedure.

The real problem is that those who want access to such morally objectionable "services" want to FORCE others to provide it. If you want to murder children (or engage ion other objectionable acts), YOU and those who are willing to assist you should do it on your (and their) own time.

 

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