Moral Safeguards for Patients, Too

Letter to the Editor
The Washington Post

4 September, 2008

Reproduced with permission

Jonathan Imbody*

The misunderstanding expressed in the Aug. 26 letter, “Health Care’s Conscientious Objectors,” illustrates the need for the conscience-protecting regulation recently proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The regulation would implement 35 years of civil rights laws passed by Congress to protect health-care professionals from discrimination, coercion and job loss for adhering to life-affirming ethical standards. The regulation would simply disallow forcing professionals to perform elective abortions and other procedures that violate millennia of medical ethics codes.

Contrary to the letter’s assertion, health-care professionals would continue to care as always for wounded soldiers, AIDS patients, post-abortive teenagers, felons and drunk drivers. In fact, the regulations would protect patient access to the compassionate, conscientious health-care professionals who are among the most dedicated to caring for such individuals.

Abortion Article Was Incorrect

Letter to the Editor
The Daily News,

Harrisonburg, VA
2 September, 2008

Reproduced with permission

Jonathan Imbody*

Shirley Kirkwood’s recent Open Forum wrongly suggests that a regulation proposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is somehow aimed at blocking contraception use (“Abortion Is A Religious Right,” Aug. 21).

That’s nearly as implausible a stretch as the notion that ending human lives is a religious right. The agency this year alone will spend over $1.6 billion on “family planning” programs.

What has been long established is the right to follow one’s conscience according to the dictates of faith and ethics.

That’s what the regulation will protect, as health care professionals push back against a culture that devalues life and work to restore life-affirming values such as those expressed in the Hippocratic Oath, the Judeo-Christian Scriptures and standards applied to medical ethics.

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.

CMA physicians call on HHS to protect patients with regulations upholding healthcare professionals’ rights

NEWS RELEASE
July 15, 2008
For Immediate Release

Christian Medical Association

Washington, D.C.–July 15, 2008– Responding to a story published this morning by the New York Times , physicians of the Christian Medical Association called  on Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael O. Leavitt to publish  regulations in accord with federal laws protecting patients and healthcare  professionals in decisions relating to controversial procedures and  prescriptions. The New York Times indicated that the Department has drafted regulations “to ensure that  federal money does not ‘support morally coercive or discriminatory practices or  policies in violation of federal law.'”

“It’s high time that the will of the people, as expressed over the past 35 years  through laws passed by Congress, finally be translated into practical healthcare  regulations,” noted Dr. David Stevens, CEO of the 13,000-member faith-based  professional organization of doctors, in a letter today to the Secretary. “Americans  on all sides of controversial issues such as abortion, reproductive technologies  and assisted suicide can appreciate the need to protect everyone’s First  Amendment rights of free speech and religious exercise. That means that  healthcare professionals must be free to follow their individual conscientious  convictions on these life-and-death matters. The CMA  letter also noted, “An informal survey of Christian Medical Association members  found that over 41 percent of respondents had been “pressured to compromise  Biblical or ethical convictions.”

Anecdotal accounts suggest that few persecuted  healthcare professionals actually know their conscience rights and that they  typically simply submit to pressure by resigning. Unless pro-life professionals  are equipped to know and apply their conscience rights, they actually stand at risk of being weeded out from the profession altogether .

Dr. Gene Rudd, Executive Vice President of the CMA, noted, “From the 1973 Church  Amendment to the more recent Hyde-Weldon Amendment, Congress has recognized the  importance of protecting patients and their healthcare professionals from  political pressures on these vital issues.”Patients are protected when physicians follow objective ethical codes, such as  those expressed in the Hippocratic Oath and the Judeo-Christian Scriptures. We  recognize that some individuals choose to refuse to follow these principles, and  under current law, that is their choice. “The regulations reportedly under consideration at Health and Human Services  apparently would simply protect the right for all healthcare professionals to  make professional judgments based on moral convictions and ethical standards.  Protecting this right also protects patients who choose their physicians based  on life-affirming values.”

Contact: Becky Gerber  Telephone: 888-231-2637    E-mail: becky.gerber@cmda.org The Christian Medical Association is equipped with Ku Band Digital Uplink  satellite and ISDN lines.