The Nevada Independent
Republican gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Adam Laxalt has signed on to a letter supporting a new set of regulations that aims to protect health workers who don’t want to perform abortions, help transgender patients transition or take other actions because of religious or moral objections.
Laxalt joined 16 other attorneys general in signing the March 27 letter to Alex Azar, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The letter lauds the “Protecting Statutory Conscience Rights in Health Care; Delegations of Authority” regulations, saying it’s important to return to obeying conscience protections enacted by Congress and restore the rule of law in Washington. . . [Full Text]
Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press
DETROIT – Sitting in the pediatrician’s office with their 6-day-old daughter, the two moms couldn’t wait to meet the doctor they had picked out months before.
The Roseville, Mich., pediatrician – one of many they had interviewed – seemed the perfect fit: She took a holistic approach to treating children. She used natural oils and probiotics. And she knew they were lesbians.
But as Jami and Krista Contreras sat in the exam room, waiting to be seen for their newborn’s first checkup, another pediatrician entered the room and delivered a major blow: The doctor they were hoping for had a change of heart. After “much prayer,” she decided that she couldn’t treat their baby because they are lesbians. [Full text]
A lawsuit has been filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), alleging that the health care directives of the Conference were responsible for the failure of a Catholic hospital to properly treat a woman who was miscarrying a pregnancy at 18 weeks gestation. The incident subject of the lawsuit occurred in December, 2010 in Muskegon, Michigan. The ACLU alleges that Tamesha Means was sent home twice by Mercy Health Partners in Muskegon without appropriate medical intervention, and received treatment only when she returned a third time and actually went into labour. The suit also names Catholic Health Ministries Chairman Stanley Urban, and former chairpersons Robert Ladenburger and Mary Mollison as defendants. They are named as individuals because Catholic Health Ministries (CHM) has status under Catholic Canon Law as a “public juridic person” [Health Progress, March/April 2005] but has never been incorporated under the laws of Michigan or the United States. The ACLU contends that CHM was responsible for the enforcement of the USCCB directives.
Neither the hospital nor the treating physicians are named in the suit. As a result, the claim is not for medical malpractice or medical negligence by the physicians or hospital, but for negligence by the USCCB. However, the hospital and treating physicians would be civilly liable for their actions regardless of USCCB directives, and their competence and clinical judgment would surely be central issues in evaluating what took place. If they were not negligent, it is difficult to see how the USCCB or CHM could be held to be negligent.
The substance of the complaint was released to the media before the USCCB was served. In a response to media enquiries, the president of the USCCB insisted that the lawsuit was “baseless” and “misguided.” John Haas, President of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, stated that the ACLU was selectively reading the directives, and that the suit was a means to advance a partisan cause, not “to obtain redress (for Means).”
“If they were concerned about a redress of grievances for this woman and medical malpractice,” he said, the suit should have been filed in a Michigan court naming the hospital and its staff as defendants. He also pointed out the at the directives would have permitted the induction of labour in the circumstances alleged in the complaint, and likened the suit against the USCCB as suing the American Medical Association because a physician failed to follow its guidelines. [NCR]
Lawmakers offer bill to protect health care workers from being forced to violate their moral and religious beliefs
The Detroit News
Michigan lawmakers worried that the Obama administration is brushing over concerns that its health care law will trample religious freedoms have crafted an appropriate bill to shield workers and hospitals from being coerced into violating their conscience.
Sen. John Moolenaar, R-Midland, introduced legislation that would offer conscience protections to individuals and institutions in the health care field. . . [Read more]
A recent viewpoint column regarding Michigan Senate Bill 136, the Religious Liberty and Conscience Protection Act, proved a disservice to the LSJ and its readers. The column was factually inaccurate and relied on scare tactics by highlighting a case in Ireland which, of course, has different laws than the United States. Let’s set the record straight about SB 136.
The purpose of the bill is to maintain civil liberties and conscience rights that our nation has cherished for over 200 years. Unfortunately, these constitutional rights are slowly eroding as government mandates are forcing individuals and institutions to act contrary to their religious teachings. . . . [Read more]
Senate Bill 136 has been approved by the Michigan Senate Health Policy Committee and will move to a vote in the state senate. The bill provides protection for health care payers, purchasers, providers, and institutions. A Michigan Radio report incorrectly states that the bill requires referral by objecting health care workers.
Michigan House Bill 136 (2013)
A bill to protect religious liberty and rights of conscience in the areas of health care and medical and scientific research as it pertains to employment, education and training, and participating in health care services and to the purchasing of or providing for the
purchase of health insurance; to provide immunity from liability; and to prescribe penalties and provide remedies. Text of Bill
The Religious Liberty Protection Act has been passed by the Michigan Senate by a vote of 26-12. It must now be considered by the state House of Representatives. [Associated Press]
Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Florida and Texas have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and the U.S. Department of Labor and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. The suit alleges violation of the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act through the HHS birth control mandate that will force insurance coverage for surgical sterilization, contraceptives and embryocides.[CNN]
Following a hearing held by a committee of the Idaho legislature, Rep. Carlos Bilbao will revise a bill he has proposed to prevent a federal birth control regulation from forcing objecting employers to provide insurance for surgical sterilization, contraceptives, and embryocidal drugs. [Deseret News] Senator John Moolenaar has introduced the Religious Liberty and Conscience Protection Act in the Michigan state legislature [Midland Daily News]. It is a broad protection of conscience bill that covers individual health care providers and facilities,both with respect to direct participation and direct or indirect payment for objectionable procedures. Bills have also been proposed in Missouri and Arizona to counter the federal regulation. If the bills pass, the federal government may go to court to have them struck down in order to enforce the federal law. [ABC News]