We are pleased to report about two victories for the conscience rights of health care workers this week.
HHS Enacts Conscience Protection for Health Care Workers
On Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services affirmed the rights of federally funded health care workers to refuse to take part in abortions and other morally objectionable procedures.
Over the past three decades, Congress enacted several statutes to safeguard the freedom of health care providers to practice according to their conscience. The new regulation will increase awareness of, and compliance with, these laws.
“Doctors and other health care providers should not be forced to choose between good professional standing and violating their conscience,” HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said. “This rule protects the right of medical providers to care for their patients in accord with their conscience.”
IL Supreme Court: Lower Court Must Consider Pro-Life Pharmacists’ Lawsuit
And, here in Illinois, on the same day, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that a lower court must consider a lawsuit brought by two pro-life pharmacists who want no part in dispensing the morning-after pill.
Our embarrassment of a governor, Rod Blagojevich, had issued an executive order in 2005 forcing pharmacies to provide the morning-after pill “without delay”, thereby ruling that pharmacists essentially have no rights of conscience while on the job.
The Chicago Tribune reports:
“I cannot follow my religion’s teachings and continue to be involved” in emergency contraception, said pharmacist Luke Vander Bleek, 45, a lifelong Catholic who runs pharmacies in Morrison, Sycamore and Genoa.
The plaintiffs argued they are protected by state laws that prohibit forcing health care decisions over moral objections and insulating citizens from religious interference. …
[Th]e [Supreme Court’s] opinion said Blagojevich’s public statements that pharmacists with moral objections “should find another profession” could be seen as a signal the state would allow no exceptions to the rule. That left the plaintiffs with no recourse but the courts.
The rule required pharmacists to risk losing their licenses “simply because they have religious beliefs that don’t fit with Gov. Blagojevich’s moral code,” Rienzi said.
[One of the pharmacists’ attorneys, Mike Rienzi, commented that] “[t]he rule required pharmacists to risk losing their licenses “simply because they have religious beliefs that don’t fit with Gov. Blagojevich’s moral code.”
Vander Bleek said he still bristles at some of Blagojevich’s public remarks about objecting pharmacists.
“I don’t think the governor should get to choose which conscientious objections are valid and which are not,” [Vander Bleek] said.
Indeed, he shouldn’t.