[permaculture] O.T.: Rule change could allow doctors to reject gay patients - Southern Voice Atlanta

Scott Pittman scott at permaculture.org
Fri Dec 26 09:53:48 EST 2008

How about refusal of service for atheists, or Buddhists???  Seems this is a
catch all regulation that allows all sorts of misbehavior.

Scott Pittman
Permaculture Institute

-----Original Message-----
From: permaculture-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:permaculture-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Lawrence F.
London, Jr.
Sent: Friday, December 26, 2008 4:11 AM
To: permaculture
Subject: [permaculture] O.T.: Rule change could allow doctors to reject gay
patients - Southern Voice Atlanta

Rule change could allow doctors to reject gay patients
At issue is HIV testing, artificial insemination, other treatments

DEC. 26, 2008
More from this author

The Bush administration issued a "right of conscience" regulation last week
that could enable health care workers to 
deny treatment to gay patients based on religious beliefs, according to

Issued Dec. 18, the rule allows the federal government to withhold funds
from health care facilities if they do not 
permit workers to opt out of performing medical procedures they find
objectionable based on religious or moral grounds.

The 127-page regulation, which is estimated to cost $44 million to
implement, is primarily aimed at allowing health 
workers to opt out of performing abortions. But Lara Schwartz, legal
director for the Human Rights Campaign, said the 
rule could enable health care providers to decline to provide services for
gay people - even for treatment of a common cold.

"It's not clear that that is the intent," she said, "but it absolutely does
not preclude that result, which is one of 
the reasons that HRC submitted comments asking them to draft it

Schwartz said refusing to provide artificial-insemination services for a
lesbian couple would be one possible procedure 
in which medical workers could refuse to participate based on the

In a Dec. 19 statement, HRC said a health care worker might be able to
refuse to administer an HIV test to gay patients 
and even be exempt from telling them where else they could receive the test.

Additionally, pharmacists could refuse to fill a prescription for hormone
therapy if they have objections to transgender 
people, HRC says.

Health & Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, in a statement Dec. 18, said
the rule "protects the right of medical 
providers to care for their patients in accord with their conscience."

"Doctors and other health care providers should not be forced to choose
between good professional standing and violating 
their conscience," he said.

Kevin Schweers, a spokesperson for the Department of Health & Human
Services, said the new regulation does not change 
existing civil rights laws in any way and said "it would be impermissible to
decline to provide or participate in a 
service if the decision is based on an individual's characteristics that are
federally protected."

There are no protections for sexual orientation under federal law, but
HIV-positive people enjoy protections under the 
Americans with Disabilities Act.

Schweers said under the new regulation, an HIV/AIDS clinic funded through
the Ryan White Care Act must still "serve its 
target population."

The Department of Health & Human Services will review any complaints
alleging discrimination under the new regulation on 
case-by-case basis, Schweers said.

The regulation goes into effect around the time President-elect Barack Obama
takes office on Jan. 20. Cristina Finch, 
senior legal counsel for HRC, said Obama could issue another rule to rescind
President Bush's upon taking office, but 
undoing the regulation could take several months.

Congress also could take action on the regulation, but there is no
indication from lawmakers or from the Obama 
administration on how they plan on reacting to the rule, Finch said.

The Obama transition team did not respond to a request for comment on how it
would respond to Bush's regulation.

Last month, Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.)
introduced legislation to repeal the rule, but the 
bill will die when the congressional session ends this year.

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), the only out lesbian in Congress,
condemned the regulations in a Dec. 18 statement 
and said she is "deeply troubled by the Bush administration's latest attack
on patients' rights and the doctor-patient 

"Medical care must be based on science and the patients' best interest, not
the providers' religious, political or other 
philosophical views," she said.

HRC President Joe Solmonese said in the Dec. 19 statement that the
regulations "sacrifice patients' right to medical 
care, permitting providers to refuse to do their jobs when they choose."

"Denying patients legal, safe medical treatments for any reason is simply
wrong, and violates the trust that all 
Americans, regardless of our sexual orientation or gender identity, place in
our doctors, nurses and pharmacists," he said.
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