NCBC Expresses Disappointment Regarding Revision of Federal Conscience Protections
Marie T. Hilliard, RN, PhD, JCL
Director of Bioethics and Public Policy
February 22, 2011. The National Catholic Bioethics Center, while applauding the federal government's stated commitment to reinforce compliance with federal conscience protection laws, is gravely disappointed by the restriction of the scope of such protection from the original language, now limiting the protections only to abortion and sterilization procedures.
The intent of the Provider Conscience Rule was to reinforce and reaffirm existing federal laws, which prohibit recipients of certain federal funds from coercing individuals in the health care field into participating in actions they find religiously or morally objectionable. Such protection from discrimination ensures a vibrant pluralism in the delivery of health care. Not protecting consciences implicitly endorses a monolithic view of health care delivery in a setting where there is legitimate moral disagreement. By ensuring that consciences are protected, the federal government will help to assure that the people of the United States continue to receive care from a reasonable, thinking, caring and conscience-driven health care force.