Conscience and coercion

Letter to the Editor

Salt Lake City Tribune
2 September, 2008
Reproduced with permission

Jonathan Imbody*

The Tribune editorial “Going too far: Proposed rule affects contraceptive information” (Our View, Aug. 26) wrongly charges that a recently proposed federal regulation will somehow “force poor women to limit their health-care choices to just those that are morally acceptable to taxpayer-funded providers.”

The regulation implements 35 years of civil liberty laws protecting health care professionals from coercion, discrimination and job loss for following life-affirming standards of medical ethics, such as the Hippocratic oath. It does not outlaw or hinder any legal procedure or prescription, nor does it prevent a patient’s access to information about contraception or abortion, which is readily available.

An intolerant approach to individual conscience is fomenting a crisis of access in health care, particularly in obstetrics and gynecology, where doctors and medical students are leaving for fear of reprisals or coercion to do abortions.

These regulations will protect health care professionals who adhere to high ethical and moral standards – those most likely to provide compassionate care for under-served patients.

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