“Choose, You Lose” Scheme Threatens All Ethical Professionals

Jonathon Imbody

The increasingly aggressive discrimination in recent years against religious and pro-life healthcare professionals and students[1] parallels a concentrated effort by abortion proponents to undermine the rationale for conscience protections in healthcare. Desperate abortion advocates apparently have concluded that the way to counter the medical community’s resistance to abortion is through coercion.

Coercion appeals to some activists because coercion is much quicker than persuasion in effecting change. If abortion activists can eliminate conscience protections, then health professionals can be forced to participate in abortion or else sacrifice their careers. .

American principles protect conscience even at a price

Affordable Care Act architect Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel and University of Pennsylvania professor Ronit Stahl lay the foundation for getting rid of healthcare conscience protections, in a New England Journal of Medicine opinion piece entitled, “Physicians, Not Conscripts — Conscientious Objection in Health Care.”[2]

Their message is simple: Choice is a one-way street. Patients get to choose; doctors don’t—at least not after they enter the medical profession.

Emanuel and Stahl attempt to establish this radical principle by postulating a sharp distinction between conscience accommodations for military draftees and conscience accommodations for physicians.

Emanuel and Stahl write,

Although this [conscience healthcare protection] legislation ostensibly mimics that of military conscientious objection, it diverges considerably. Viewing conscientious objection in health care as analogous to conscientious objection to war mistakes choice for conscription, misconstrues the role of personal values in professional contexts, substitutes cost-free choices for penalized decisions, and cedes professional ethics to political decisions.”[3]

In the United States, a pacifist opposed to the military draft can receive a conscientious exemption from combat duty, even during a time of war when every other able-bodied citizen his age is expected to fight to defend the national interest. The cost to the country is high if counted in terms of fewer soldiers available for active duty.

Yet the authors would countenance no such rights, no such accommodation of cost, to a pro-life physician who cannot on the basis of conscience end the life of a developing baby in an elective abortion. While permitting the pacifist draftee a conscientious objection to killing, the authors contend, government must deny the same objection by a health professional.

Why? According to Emmanuel and Stahl, the reason is that physicians choose their professions, whereas draftees do not choose to join the military. . .[Full text]

What you need to know and do about the new HHS transgender mandate

CMDA – The Point

Jonathon Imbody

What do healthcare professionals and health institutions need to know about and how can they defend themselves from the Obama administration’s newly enacted transgender mandate?

What happened when?
The transgender mandate, promulgated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the assumed authority of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), went into effect July 18, 2016. A new website explains what the mandate requires, why it violates the law and what conscientious objectors can do to protect their rights.

Whom does the rule target?
HHS recently mandated that healthcare professionals must perform gender transition procedures on any child referred by a mental health professional, even if the physician believes the treatment or hormone therapy could harm the child.

Healthcare professionals who follow the Hippocratic Oath to act in the best interest of their patient instead of this new mandate can face severe consequences, including losing their jobs. The transgender mandate also requires virtually all private insurance companies and many employers to cover gender transition procedures or face stiff penalties and legal action. . . [Full text]

Now Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is not radical enough to work at Rite Aid

 

Freedom2Care.org

Jonathan Imbody*

Tolerance. Diversity. Broad-mindedness. Those are the words.

Bullying. Discriminating. Compelling. Those are the deeds.

The contradictory words and deeds often come from one and the same individuals–and in a case I learned about today, companies. Turns out the words of tolerance, diversity and broad-mindedness only apply to those who comply with the dogma and submit to the will of the speakers.

Here’s an email I received this morning from a pharmacist member of the Christian Medical Association:

“Subject: Forced to resign over mandate to sell the morning after pill.

“Just to let you know that Rite-Aid corporation came out with a stricter policy on July 5, 2013 that requires all employees to accommodate the sale of the morning-after pill to all comers, of either gender and of any age.  I tendered my resignation within the hour, it was accepted, and my last work day is July 20th.  I realize that I am an ‘at will’ employee and I do not expect any recourse. Just for your information to add me to the list of those quitting pharmacy solely because of the policy change.  Keep up the good work. The battle rages.  The Lord is able to supply our needs.”

Remember that even the Obama administration health department opposed the unlimited sale of the morning-after pill, citing health concerns. So presumably, even the radically pro-abortion Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, is not radical enough to work at Rite Aid.

Unfortunately, Secretary Sebelius and President Obama trashed the only federal regulation protecting health care professionals from discrimination and firings for reasons of conscience. They and other abortion advocates also can’t seem to muster enough liberality to support the tolerant, diversity-respecting and broad-minded principles of the Healthcare Conscience Rights Act (S 1204 and HR 940).

While the regulation and the law apply specifically to government-funded programs, each can help establish an environment of true respect for conscience, tolerance and diversity that will protect health care professionals nationwide. Until then, pharmacists, obstetricians and family docs who still adhere to the Hippocratic oath and faith tenets remain subject to job loss, discrimination and ostracism for their life-affirming views.

Jonathan Imbody
Vice President for Government Relations,
Christian Medical Association 
CMA Washington office: P.O. Box 16351 • Washington, DC 20041
703-723-8688 (office) • 703-434-9794 (mobile)
Director, Freedom2Care – 50 groups and 29,000 individuals advancing conscience rights

Obama ‘freedom to worship’ assaults First Amendment

 Freedom of religion not just for private expression

28 January, 2013
Washington Times

Jonathan Imbody*

President Obama marked Religious Freedom Day earlier this month by framing religious liberty as “the freedom to worship as we choose.” If the president had not been restricting and attacking religious freedom so egregiously, he might merit a pass for using “freedom to worship” as poor shorthand for religious liberty.

The First Amendment of our Constitution actually reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The constitutionally guaranteed free exercise of religion in America extends well beyond the freedom to worship. It includes the freedom to live out our conscientiously held beliefs. . . [Read on]

 

Obama Administration Guts Healthcare Conscience Regulation

National Right to Life News
21 February 2011
Reproduced with permission

Jonathon Imbody*

True civil rights protection requires cultural change. A long-term program of education within the medical community and in the public is needed to help build awareness among conscientious healthcare professionals of their civil rights and a respect for those rights by all.

On February 18 the Obama administration gutted the only federal regulation protecting conscientious healthcare professionals from discrimination.

While three long-standing federal conscience-protecting laws remain intact, the conscience-protecting regulation had been promulgated under the Bush administration to remedy documented pervasive discrimination against pro-life physicians and others in disregard of the anti-discrimination laws.

U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius effectively eviscerated a sensible Bush-era regulation that had finally put teeth to bipartisan federal civil rights laws enacted over the past three decades. Those anti-discrimination laws were passed, all after the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion ruling, as a way to keep physicians, nurses, hospitals and others from being forced out of medicine simply for following life-affirming ethical standards such as the Hippocratic oath.

But abortion advocates hyperventilated when it appeared that those laws would actually be implemented and enforced by the conscience protection regulation, which took effect in January 2009.

Cecile Richards of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America had said, “It is going to cause chaos among providers across the country.”

Then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton had said: “It threatens the health and well-being of women and the rights of patients across the country.”

Of course, none of their doomsday predictions even faintly materialized in the over two years since the original regulation took effect. In explaining Friday’s regulation change, HHS presented no evidence whatsoever of any hindrance to any patient, procedure or prescription. The complete lack of evidence didn’t seem to matter a whit, despite President Obama’s vow in his Inaugural Address to “restore science to its rightful place.”

The administration’s radical action again suggests tone deafness to the American public. Of the over 300,000 comments HHS received regarding rescission, twice as many opposed rescission as supported it. The Polling Company in 2009 conducted a nationwide scientific polling of the public and also of faith-based healthcare professionals. The results revealed that:

  • An overwhelming 63% of the public supported the conscience protection regulation whereas only 28% opposed the conscience protection regulation.
  • Only 30% indicated support for the Obama administration’s plan to get rid of the regulation, whereas 62% opposed the administration’s plan.
  • 88% of American adults said it is either “very” or “somewhat” important to them that they share a similar set of morals as their doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers.
  • Nine of ten faith-based physicians agreed, “I would rather stop practicing medicine altogether than be forced to violate my conscience.”

In other words, faith-based healthcare professionals and institutions are ready to walk away from medicine if denied the ability to practice medicine according to conscientiously held ethical standards.

I tried to drive home that point in a meeting I had at the White House in 2009 with Obama officials regarding the conscience regulation and abortion in general. I pointed out that Mr. Obama and his officials never provided a concrete reason for trashing the reg, that the reg merely implemented existing federal law, and that it was crucial to preserving patient access to the pro-life physicians, hospitals and clinics across the country that depend upon conscience protections to practice medicine.

Especially in states already facing critical physician shortages–such as Texas, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Utah, Nevada, Idaho and Delaware–losing just one physician can erase healthcare access for thousands of patients. Hardest hit are poor patients and those who live in medically underserved areas.

The recent regulatory action makes all the more vital passing bills pending in the 112th Congress to protect healthcare access with conscience protections. For example, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 3), offered by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ); the Protect Life Act (H.R. 358), offered by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.); and the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 361) offered by Rep. John Fleming (R-La.), all forbid discrimination related to abortion, in certain contexts.

Abortion ideology has taken root in much of medical academia and healthcare institutions and has resulted in both overt and subtle discrimination that laws alone cannot adequately address. Civil rights laws by themselves, it should be remembered, did not protect minorities from many forms of discrimination.

True civil rights protection requires cultural change. A long-term program of education within the medical community and in the public is needed to help build awareness among conscientious healthcare professionals of their civil rights and a respect for those rights by all. Only then will we begin to restore medicine to its ethical moorings and protect the patients who depend upon ethical and compassionate healthcare professionals.


A matter of conscience

Washington Times
17 December, 2008

Reproduced with permission

Jonathan Imbody*

Americans blanch at abortion coercion in China, where population control agents force mothers to end the lives of their unborn babies who exceed the mandated limit of one child per couple. Yet few Americans realize that abortion-related mandates are also threatening to U.S. health care professionals who follow medical standards such as the Hippocratic Oath.

Conscientious physicians and other health care professionals are being pressured, under threat of job loss, to violate medical ethics standards by performing abortions and referring patients to abortion clinics to do the deed.

Abortion advocates have been lobbying vociferously to cast abortion as standard medical care and to mandate abortion participation by all health care professionals. Only a tiny fraction of U.S. physicians otherwise are willing to violate the Hippocratic Oath, which has guided medicine for well over two millennia, by participating in abortions.

The abortion mandate strategy may be ill-conceived, but unfortunately it is not ill-fated.

Abortion, which neither heals nor comforts, does not qualify as standard medical care under historical medical standards; it has only recently and politically infiltrated health care. Since American health care professionals have long enjoyed a measure of autonomy in making professional decisions, mandating participation in a procedure prohibited by long-standing medical ethics standards seems likewise implausible.

But abortion ideology and zeal have a way of trumping all notions of ethics and professionalism.

Aggressive abortion mandate advocates dominate the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a highly politicized medical specialty group with vast influence over the profession of obstetrics and gynecology. Last November, ACOG issued an official ethics statement tellingly entitled, “The Limits of Conscientious Refusal in Reproductive Medicine.” The ACOG statement ignores the role of objective standards in conscientious objections to abortion. ACOG instead denigrates conscience as a mere subjective “sentiment.” In reality, however, health care professionals who object to abortion do so not because of subjective feelings but because killing the unborn contravenes Hippocratic, biblical and other life-affirming objective ethical standards.

By contrast, abortion ideology rests on the subjective, unanchored notion of “privacy” and “patient autonomy.” By ripping conscience from its foundation of objective standards and demoting it to the level of subjective feelings, ACOG paints abortion objections as a clash between a physician’s feelings and a patient’s autonomy. With autonomy elevated as the ethical trump card, physicians and all ethical standards must bow in submission.

Having demoted conscience to the subjective realm and elevated patient autonomy to a position of unchallengeable supremacy, ACOG opposes faith-based ethical standards as “an imposition of religious or moral beliefs on patients.”ACOG even incredibly contends that pro-life obstetricians should not only be required to perform or refer for abortions; they should also relocate their practices close to abortionists to make such referrals more convenient.

Given the official link between ACOG ethics positions and physician board certification, obstetricians who refuse to follow ACOG’s abortion mandate now presumably stand to lose their hospital privileges and their livelihood. Medical ethics thus would be turned upside down, as life-honoring physicians lose the ability to practice medicine simply for following the Hippocratic Oath.

Meanwhile, the abortion mandate movement will soon tap potentially irrepressible numbers in Congress and powerful advocates in the White House and the administration.

President-elect Barack Obama, Sen. Hillary Clinton and other abortion advocates have strenuously opposed a modest U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulation that would ensure freedom of conscience in health care. The regulation would finally implement over 35 years of federal civil rights law aimed at protecting health care professionals from abortion-related coercion.

The HHS regulation, expected to be finalized before Dec. 20, could be overturned by a pro-abortion Congress and president, either through new legislation or a new regulation.

Mandating abortion participation in health care is rife with irony. Most Americans easily recognize the hypocrisy of forcing “pro-choice” ideology on all health care professionals. The injustice of ending the lives of innocent unborn children has only persisted in this country, where most citizens oppose abortion on demand, under the smokescreen of choice.

By driving out pro-life obstetricians and gynecologists who refuse to participate in abortions, abortion mandates would ironically decrease women’s access to some of the most conscientious and compassionate physicians in America, many of whom volunteer free medical services to poor women. Abortion mandates threaten to shut down thousands of life-affirming, faith-based hospitals and clinics that provide care in some of the nation’s most underserved communities.

Maybe that’s what it will take for Americans to penetrate the fog of abortion propaganda and recognize that breaching the foundational right to life imperils all other rights.

Don’t doctors deserve a choice on abortion?

Letter to the Editor
Baltimore Sun

13 November, 2008

Reproduced with permission

Jonathan Imbody*

The acerbic editorial “Bush rules” (Nov. 11) ironically accuses the Bush administration of attacking “personal rights” and then lambastes the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for proposing a regulation to protect the civil rights of health care professionals.

The Baltimore Sun protests “extending the right to refuse to participate in an abortion to include an array of health care workers.” Which medical professionals does the paper deem unworthy of civil rights so that they should be forced to violate their conscience and the Hippocratic Oath?

Thankfully, shortly after the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade wrested decision-making control from the states and the people, a prescient Congress began passing laws to prevent coercion and discrimination against health care professionals on both sides of the abortion debate. Yet three major civil rights laws have never been implemented. Meanwhile, “pro choice” advocates, provoked by the fact that the vast majority of physicians refuse to perform abortions, have resorted to seeking to require participation in abortion.

A recent official statement of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists not only requires that physicians perform or refer for abortions but also demands that pro-life physicians relocate in order to refer patients to nearby abortion clinics. Our members report losing jobs and promotions over their commitment to life-affirming standards. The proposed HHS regulation is urgently needed to protect compassionate and conscientious physicians who are simply extending the life-affirming ethic and patient protections of the Hippocratic Oath.

Proposed rule would protect doctors from discrimination

The Hill
24 September, 2008

Reproduced with permission

Jonathan Imbody*

The uproar over a modest proposal by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reveals a widening culture chasm in healthcare, created by disparate views of medical ethics and civil rights.

When HHS recently proposed a regulation to finally implement 35 years of civil liberty laws protecting conscience rights in health care, opponents railed against an alleged conspiracy to “deny women access to contraception.”

That’s quite an implausible protest against an agency that this year will spend over $1.6 billion on “family planning” programs.

The real reason for the abortion lobby’s protest stems from years of frustration in attempts to persuade physicians to violate their commitment to heal and to the Hippocratic Oath’s prohibition on abortion and the mandate to “do no harm.” The last remaining strategy to achieve their goal of involving more physicians is to literally force them to perform or refer patients for abortions, through state laws and medical organization policies forbidding the exercise of conscientious objection.

The only thing standing in the way of that coercive agenda is implementation of federal civil rights law.

Ironically, coercive laws and policies, though instigated in the name of insuring access to women’s healthcare, in fact threaten to significantly decrease access — by eliminating physicians who hold to life-affirming standards of medical ethics.

Discrimination and coercion appear to be infiltrating many sectors of medicine. Over 40 percent of our members report having experienced pressure to compromise their commitment to medical ethics standards. Medical school applicants with life-affirming values report discrimination in entrance interviews. Residents report being denied clinical learning opportunities because they refused to perform abortions. Physicians report the loss of jobs and academic promotions based on their life-affirming stances.

The public likewise remains ignorant of existing federal civil rights protections. A scientific national survey by The Polling Company Inc. revealed that 42 percent of American adults incorrectly believe that federal law obliges a physician to either perform or refer for abortions.

The HHS regulation is urgently needed to remedy discrimination and coercion in healthcare before patients lose access to some of our bestand most compassionate medical professionals.

By implementing existing conscience-protecting laws and by initiating education, the regulation can take a vital step toward restoring a culture in medicine that honors professional standards and respects civil rights.

Re: Sept. 8 editorial “Leavitt should drop proposed health care rule.”

Letter to the Editor
Austin American Statesman

15 September, 2008

Reproduced with permission

Jonathan Imbody*

The editorial characterizes as “a back-door way to limit access to contraceptives” a regulation recently proposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to protect conscience rights in health care.

The regulation in no way prohibits access to either contraception or abortion. The regulation merely implements 35 years of civil rights laws to protect health care professionals from discrimination merely for adhering to life-affirming medical ethics such as the Hippocratic Oath.

More than 40 percent of our members — physicians and medical students — report that they have experienced pressure to violate standards of medical ethics. Medical students report eschewing careers in obstetrics and gynecology for fear of coercion to do abortions.

This regulation is urgently needed to prevent forcing these principled professionals out of their careers through discrimination and coercion, which results in less access to health care for women.

Rules let care workers practice medical ethics

Letter to the Editor,
Detroit News,

6 September, 2008

Reproduced with permission

Jonathan Imbody*

Laura Berman’s Aug. 26 column, “Keep the choice in hands of patients,” mischaracterizes a conscience-protecting regulation recently proposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as somehow pitting “health care workers with strong religious and moral beliefs against women needing care.”

The regulation would finally implement 35 years of civil rights laws passed by Congress to prevent discrimination and coercion against health care professionals who adhere to life-affirming standards of medical ethics such as the Hippocratic Oath. Such standards not only affirm the inherent value of the unborn and the elderly; they also aim to protect patients from sexual abuse, financial exploitation and violation of privacy in healthcare.

Two of five of our members report being pressured to violate standards of medical ethics. Residents report being denied clinical privileges for refusing to perform abortions. Medical students report switching out of obstetrics and gynecology for fear of reprisals and coercion to do abortions. The pro-abortion American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently issued a position statement that all obstetricians are obliged to participate in abortion. Conscientiously objecting physicians face an implicit threat of loss of licensure.

The real threat to choice comes from perpetuating these violations of healthcare professionals’ civil rights, which ultimately results in patients losing access to their most compassionate and conscientious physicians.