Still Waiting for Administration to Impose "Conscience" Rule

December 3, 2008

As we’ve been covering since August, a proposed rule out of the Department of Health and Human Services purports to protect provider “conscience” (extending that explicitly to those who clean instruments and other non-physician roles). The rule is ostensibly protect providers from having to perform abortions (although this right is already protected), but would likely have the effect of seriously reducing access to legal health care such as oral contraceptives.

The proposed rule has already been through a formal public comment period (without a real public hearing), and we’re watching closely to see if it is rammed through during the last days of the Bush administration. Although Chief of Staff John Bolten issued a memo in May asking that “Except in extraordinary circumstances, regulations to be finalized in this Administration should be proposed no later than June 1, 2008, and final regulations should be issued no later than November 1, 2008,” articles such as this piece in the LA Times suggest that the rule could still be finalized. The rule was proposed in late August, and has obviously missed the November 1 deadline.

Last night, Rachel Maddow on MSNBC spoke with Melissa Harris-Lacewell, and has an excellent discussion of the issue for those just catching up on the topic.

(from The Rachel Maddow Show)

We have written a number of posts in the past several months on this topic which you can review for further details, including:

RHRealityCheck also has extensive coverage of the issue. We’ll be keeping an eye on this, and will let you know if we find out more.

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