Obama Scraps 'Conscience' Rule for Health Workers

But those who object to abortions can still opt out
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2011 3:59 PM CST
File photo of birth control pills.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – The Obama administration today undid an eleventh-hour rule enacted by George W. Bush that gave health workers the option to refuse to perform a litany of procedures they objected to on moral, religious, or cultural grounds. Declaring the so-called "conscience" rule "unclear and potentially overbroad in scope," the administration trimmed it down to allowing workers to opt out of performing abortions and sterilizations, the Washington Post reports.

When the Obama version takes effect in 30 days, health workers will no longer be able to refuse tasks such as prescribing birth control pills, treating gay patients, or honoring patients' end-of-life decisions on care. The provision also ensures that no federal money will be used to "support coercive or discriminatory policies or practices in violation of federal law." The Bush version would have cut off funds to hospitals and other entities that refused to abide by workers' objections.

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