Chicago, IL —
The George W. Bush Administration era health care conscience rule, which allowed health care workers to opt out of treating certain patients based on personal or religious beliefs, including gay and lesbian patients, has been partially rescinded by the Obama administration.
The final rule will take effect in 30 days.
In a statement by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) today, "The administration strongly supports provider conscience laws that protect and support the rights of health care providers, and also recognizes and supports the rights of patients. Strong conscience laws make it clear that health care providers cannot be compelled to perform or assist in an abortion. Many of these strong conscience laws have been in existence for more than 30 years. The rule being issued today builds on these laws by providing a clear enforcement process."
While health care providers can continue to refuse to perform abortions and sterilizations, they no longer may withhold other treatments, such as Plan B emergency contraception and prophylactic HIV medication cocktails, because of their personal feelings on the issues.
The controversial Bush rule was implemented in 2008 and caused uproar from gay and woman's rights organizations.