Consciences Not Allowed

The following article is about the Defense of Healthcare Professionals' Conscience Rights and was posted on the Georgia Right to Life website By Wayne DuBois, Media Relations Advisor. 

For healthcare workers who respect the sanctity of human life, participating in certain procedures, such as abortion or assisted suicide, are unthinkable.

Religious freedom allows them to protect the God-given right of Personhood for every pre-born child, the elderly, and the infirm.

Now a ruling by a federal judge for the Southern District of New York has denied them that freedom and forces them to keep their convictions to themselves and do what they find unethical or immoral.

Last November, Judge Paul A. Engelmayer overturned a 2017 “conscience rule” issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that allowed healthcare workers to refuse to perform certain procedures.

The order—which applies nationwide—was in response to a challenge to the rule filed by Planned Parenthood, New York State Attorney General Letitia James, and the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association.

James was quoted saying: “The refusal of care rule was an unlawful attempt to allow health-care providers to openly discriminate and refuse to provide necessary health care to patients based on providers’ ‘religious beliefs or moral objections.’”

Her point was clear: the right to kill babies and the elderly outweighs anyone’s Constitutional conscience rights.

The rule allowed HHS to use its full investigative and enforcement tools to enforce the rule and redress conscience violations, including the termination of federal funding.

HHS also took the position that federal conscience rules preempt conflicting state and local laws.

Georgia Right to Life (GRTL) could not immediately determine what impact vacating the rule would have on Georgia’s existing conscience laws. 

Judge Engelmayer’s order was appealed by the Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA). Oral arguments on the appeal have been delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under the rule, hospitals, insurance companies, and local governments that violated their employees’ rights faced the loss of federal funds.

In his 147-page opinion, the judge claimed that HHS did not have the authority to impose major portions of the rule. He also said the agency overstated the number of health care provider complaints it presented to the court.

Responding to rule being struck down, Dr. Regina Frost, an OB-GYN, wrote an impassioned article in The Federalist.

“I am a doctor and a caregiver, but above all else, I am a woman of faith,” she wrote.  “It is my faith that drew me to become an OB-GYN, called me to open my own practice to treat women with dignity and compassion, and that helps me navigate the daily challenges of my profession.”

Joining CMDA in appealing the decision, Dr. Frost said if the conscience rule is outlawed “…religious doctors and nurses across the country are at greater risk of being forced to perform procedures that violate our core beliefs.”

She added: “I cannot take the life of a child in one room and guide another into the world in the next. Nor can I care for one elderly woman while helping another end her life. That would not only undermine my most deeply held religious beliefs and my medical judgement, but also the oath I took as a medical professional.”

If this ruling is upheld, it could force Georgia doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other medical personnel to choose between their careers and their consciences.

All of this represents the latest attack on religious freedom—especially Christianity—and needs to end.


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