30 January 2006

Rob Stein, of The Washington Post, tallies the number of “conscience clause” bills under consideration in more than a dozen state congresses that would codify the right of health care workers to refuse to provide treatment or care that conflicts with their personal beliefs. Under the umbrella of such “refusal clauses” would be pharmacists’ rights to refuse birth control or emergency contraception prescriptions; the right of doctors, nurses or other health care workers to refuse to provide treatments to which they have moral objections, such as fertility or family planning treatments, medicine that utilizes embryonic stem cells, physician-assisted suicide, and potentially even any treatment of gay or lesbian patients; as well as the rights of employees in health-care related industries, such as insurance providers or ambulance drivers, who object to providing information or transportation to those seeking medical treatments, such as abortion, that they find morally objectionable.