Rule Protecting Anti-Abortion Staffers Sparks Furor

Obama, agencies protest Bush plan that gives more leeway to moral objections
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Nov 18, 2008 9:03 AM CST
US Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt is a top backer of the 'provider conscience' law.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – A host of hospitals, pharmacists, state officials and lawmakers—including President-elect Barack Obama—have slammed a last-minute Bush administration rule to protect health care providers from having to perform procedures they find morally objectionable, the New York Times reports. The plan would block federally funded hospitals, drugstores, and other organizations from requiring workers to perform or assist in abortions, and would prevent them from discriminating against those who refuse to do so.

Officials from the federal equal-opportunity office say the rule would doom decades of equal-opportunity laws that already block discrimination based on religion. Drugstores say employees could refuse to fill prescriptions for contraceptives, state officials say it could void laws that require insurers to cover contraceptives, and Ohio’s health department warns it “could force family planning providers to hire employees who may refuse to do their jobs.”