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Controversial “Conscience Rights” Rule Delayed

Posted on Monday, July 29, 2019 12:46 PM

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has agreed to delay the implementation date of the Protecting Statutory Conscience Rights in Health Care; Delegations Authority Rule.  Commonly referred to as the “the conscience rule”, it was supposed to begin this month, but it now delayed until at least November 22, 2019. 

“The Rule is intended to protect “individuals, entities, and healthcare entities” (emphasis supplied) that “refuse to perform, assist in the performance of, or undergo certain health care services or research activities to which they may object for religious, moral, ethical, or other reasons.”  The Rule implements approximately 25 existing federal conscience protection provisions (“Conscience Provisions”), including various provisions of the Affordable Care Act.  Some of the implemented Conscience Provisions, like the Church Amendment, provide very broad protections for individuals and organizations who object to health care procedures on a religious or moral basis.”

The rule ensures that healthcare professionals will not feel compelled to leave the practice of medicine because they decline to participate in actions that violate their conscience such as abortion, sterilization, or assisted suicide. It also protects the right of diverse faith-based health care institutions to retain their religious beliefs and identity as part of their mission of serving others. Some opponents believe patients will not receive necessary health care and will be left without alternatives in times of need and some believe the protections are anti-LGBT.

There were over 20,000 comments submitted about the proposed rule showing how controversial it is, and the ACLU, California Attorney General and other groups filed lawsuits.  HHS has delayed the implementation as they await the final ruling in the California court.

Source: NAHC Report

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