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    December 2008
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If you are a health care worker, please do take advantage of President Bush’s “conscience protection” rule

(h/t to the discussion on the thread here)

President Bush’s newest regulations “protect[] the right of medical providers to care for their patients in accord with their conscience.”

If your conscience commits you to opposition to birth control, please refuse to discuss vasectomy with men who do not wish to father children, and certainly do not participate in any way with providing vasectomies – if you are a pharmacist who opposes the use of birth control, do not even fulfill prescriptions for post-operative anti-infection medications.

If your conscience commits you to the Freudian view that sexual sublimation and delayed gratification lead people to be productive in areas other than biological reproduction, please refuse to advise about, prescribe, or fulfill prescriptions for Viagra and Cialis.

If your conscience commits you to the view that nature must take its course when it comes matters reproductive please refuse to advise men about infertility treatments, such as these or these.

If your conscience commits you to the view that transracial adoptions are bad for children or bad for a particular racial group, under no circumstances should you counsel a couple of one race to adopt a child of another.

If your conscience commits you to the view that people have an overriding moral obligation to procreate then feel entitled to refuse them chemotherapy or to participate in administering chemotherapy to cancer patients, since one of its common side affects is infertility.

If your conscience commits you to the view that homosexuality is evil, refuse to treat gay people with AIDS. No doctoring or nursing for them from you.

By all means put your conscience ahead of your patient’s needs or desires. After all, the patient is just a therapeutic subject that allows you to make a living. What matters the most is that you never have to disturb your conscience to aid a person who comes to you and pays you for care. What a ridiculous view of medical care THAT would be.

Now health care workers, like Presidents and Presidents-elect can put their “worldviews” ahead of the people they serve, whenever they want. One can only hope that when it comes to Presidents, the Legislature remains independent enough from the Executive branch (regardless of which Party is in control of Congress and which the Executive) to play its Constitutional role: to check and balance what the Executive does.

Thank you to Riverdaughter and the other people who post here for inviting me to join their ranks. It is an honor I will always cherish; an opportunity I will not squander; and another step toward working with others to rebuild a genuinely liberal community, where individual dignity matters more than state power and truth and justice are available to all.

[an earlier version of this piece  was crossposted  at Heidi Li’s Potpourri]

33 Responses

  1. Thank you for this post, Heidi Li. It highlights the hypocrisy of the far-right, brilliantly.

  2. Heidi Li
    I am a health care worker and I have conscience and I know how to use it !!!! There are so many more absolutely preposterous and ridiculous ways to apply this piece ot legislation it would wreck the health care system entirely .

  3. In many ways, physicians have always claimed the right to refuse. My suggestion to fellow nurses is if they do not wish to participate in abortions, do not work ob/gyn. For those who find AIDS patients distasteful, work do not work in Special Immunology services. There are many ways around it. As for the pharmacists who do not believe in mornin g after pills, they should not be alone in the corner drugstore. The patient should have an alternative. Perhaps the Rape Treatment centers can dispense them. This will not go away, and Health Care workers, while entitled to anopinion, serve the greater good as well.

  4. Also , it is lame duck eforts like this from the far right heart of shrubdom , that are precisly why bo should never have chosen Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration . It only gives fuel to flame that encourages this kind of thinking and encourages other legislation and efforts that hamper fairness for womens health care .
    But I will see what I can do about prostate care , It simply goes against my conscience to interfere with the natural aging process of the male reproductive organs .

  5. Has anyone else heard of this before?

  6. Very well put.

    Who could have believed what we are witnessing right now?

    Thank you for stating all of it. The backlash on all of these things will be trememdous — starting with Prop. 8.

    PUMAfeminists will have to take care of the women’s issues.

    Unbelievable times, Heidi Li, RD & Co.

    hugs ————

    I think we are in for a great rebirth of the Second Wave, right now. The tail end Baby Boom part of the Second Wave has got to mentor the Fourth Wave. The Third? Hmmm…….. not sure what happened with that…

  7. And if you’re a Scientologist, feel free to refuse to fill prescriptions for anti-psychotics, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds, etc.

    This is so ridiculous. My dad’s a G.P. and a committed Roman Catholic; years ago he told me that he’d rather write a prescription for birth control than to have to later make a referral for abortion. And if a woman needed an abortion, he’d make that referral too – he knows the woman is his patient and her health comes first.

  8. Swanspirit: the connection between having Rick Warren as the inaugural speaker and the mentality that puts forth the reg I wrote about is exactly right.

    And chatblue, yes, OF COURSE, people can and have always chosen what they feel comfortable doing – by picking one profession over another or one area in a profession over another. And that is fine, it is each person’s right. But you cannot be a moral freelancer when it comes to the job you do pick. I know YOU get this but I don’t think either our incoming or outgoing presidents do.

  9. Excellent post, you hit the nail on the head. I figure most right winger are like Nancy Reagan … Poppy gets Alsheimers and suddenly she’s pro-stem cell research. Cheney’s daughter is gay, so maybe gay adoption is just fine. How many secret abortions by the daughters of right-to-lifers we can only guess!

  10. “By all means put your conscience ahead of your patient’s needs or desires. After all, the patient is just a therapeutic subject that allows you to make a living. What matters the most you never have to disturb your conscience to aid a person who comes to you and pays you for care.”

    This may be the most powerful statement I have ever seen.
    Thank you, Heidi Li

    I am a health care worker. I have had to forcefully stop an OB from sterilizing one of my adult psychiatric clients (without her knowledge or signature). I threatened to get a court order. He stopped, but was completely angered by my “interference”. I also had to intervene when a psychiatrist denied antidepressants to a woman who was suffering from post-partum depression with psychosis (the “blues” as BO calls it – a$$hat).

    (I just stopped by here to take a peek before I left for the day.
    I hope everyone sees this post. I’m sending the link to my friends.)

  11. Thank YOU Heidi Li !!!
    You get it ; we all here at PUMA central get it , Hollywood gets it , the LGBT Community gets it , and trust me Dollywood , even Bollywood probably get it too ….
    and I promise you the invocation will have some reference to the right wingnut beleif system , I cannot imagine RW not working it in , it is too much of an opportunity for him .
    I have been living and practicing on the Eastern Shore of MD for a long time now . When I moved here i applied for ajob at the biggest hospital here , on their psyche unit . This was in 1987 and i was told at my interview “we dont have a psyche unit ; the psychiatrists here on the lower shore dont believe in that ”
    I was dumbfounded , and stuttered out some question as to what there was to “believe in” and was told they didn’t believe in separate treatment for ” mental patients ” and they put them on the floor with medical patients because it would be too much of an embarassment and stigma on the family. It only took them 10 years or so to get beyond that mind set and create a psyche unit in the hospital. The practice what they preach and preach what to practice in that mindset.
    bo has set us back yet again , so much for progress in health care …. I am sorry, but he disgusts me so, because this impacts so many people and mostly women and children , and these men walk away with their dicks dangling and not a care in the world for what they have done .

  12. Letting 22,000 people a year die from a lack of health insurance is good business. You don’t get bonuses for saying “yes” instead of “no.” No conscience clauses there.

  13. Heidi Li,

    Thank you for this brilliant post! This is one you should put up at Real Clear Politics so we can rate it up. I wish I knew how to post things there.

  14. Thanks Heidi Li, and that is a slippery slope in a nutshell. (Worse than just a slippery slope, it’s BS of the highest order in even a glimmer of its inception) Of course, there will be those medical providers– and hey– can’t we include receptionists in medical offices as providers– who will pick and choose who their conscience dictates deserves medical treatment. Certainly party B in the emergency room is more deserving than party A.

  15. I have to go get my YULE TREE but by ALLMEANS Put this on RCP absolutely I will vote for it when i get back 🙂

  16. Heidi Le, exactly. This is what I posted on the It”s official thread last nite.

    Deja_Vu brings up a great point about vasectomies. What other ways could this affect men? When I first heard about this of course I thought this only affects women. Then I realized it could easily cause problems for gay men, too. And gay women. Let’s come up with a list of how this could -and should affect men. Every time they degrade our rights, let’s find a way to show that – that particular degradation should also hurt men. Just like the no insurance for birth control, then no insurance for Viagra point. (a drug that has the potential to get women pregnant). Viagra is not just prescribed to older men. How can we make abortion about the men who contributed to the need for an abortion without compromising the woman’s privacy? It seems like we are going to have to reinvent the damn wheel because everything we’ve worked for is still in jeopardy. Let’s get a serious list (and a satire one just for fun) going and start putting it out there.

    For instance our “press release”:
    Today the Feminist group SIUYAFWSSM were elated to hear of Bush’s latest measure which would deny the right of any man to seek a vasectomy if his doctor is opposed to birth control OR a prescription for Viagra unless their sole content is to procreate. It’s refreshing to know that no man will be allowed to take this life-creating pill unless he and his lawfully married female partner have sworn in a court of law to not take any birth control measures to interfere with the procreation process and that his income can sustain a child for 18 years. We strongly agree that any man who has ever been delinquent in child support will be denied this life-creating drug and that doctors and healthcare workers who are exercising their moral beliefs will ensure that a sperm count will be done to ensure the drug is prescribed for procreation purposes only and not in any “recreational” sense.

  17. Real Clear Politics is “revamping” their reader submission area. So no reader submissions over there for a while.

  18. excellent post, Heidi Li.

    I’m expecting we’ll soon hear Obama has done a “Romney 360” and “rethought” his position on women’s reproductive privacy.
    He’ll do nothing about Bush’s EO.

    Pastor Rick will smile and nod in approval knowing Obama has saved us from another “Holocaust.”

    Back to the dark ages we go.
    Back to the trenches, choice advocates.

  19. Sanctioning of personal bias under the color of governmental encouragement is an anathema to the rights of all. It is rules such as these that would have insured no southern diners would have ever served a person of color. Passing along to individuals the right to discriminate in areas where government has been forbidden is a vestige of the king turning his head to the marauding masses. In so doing, the marauding masses become an instrumentality of the king.

    We have allowed privateers to kill by sanctioning Blackwater, we have allowed privateers to wreck the economy by a wink and a nod of the comatose SEC, we have made the Bill of Rights a mere suggestion through FISA and now we allow individuals to do what the government can’t when it comes to access to medical care. If government can give individuals permission to deny life, liberty and medical care, pursuing happiness seems like a fool’s errand.

  20. Prolix, on December 20th, 2008 at 1:30 pm Said:

    Don’t forget the privatization of prisons, whereby companies profit by performing a unique state function, but are not held to the standards of federal civil rights laws (yes, this is an accurate statement of the law, it is an area I teach).

  21. What I want to do is become a pharmacist and then declare my intention not to give out any meds that were tested on animals. If that’s someone’s conscience this rational dictates they be allowed. So basically a vegan pharmacist can sit around all day pretty much doing nothing and drawing a salary.

    These folks are such dumbfucks.

  22. I’m looking forward to abiding by my conscience and refusing to provide care to any Obots in my clinic. All of you eejits with Change T-shirts and Women for Obama (sic) buttons!

  23. In our hospital, it is an unwritten law that you don’t have to do a procedure that you don’t agree with. It is also unwritten (and followed strictly) that you WILL, however, find someone ELSE to do the procedure (unless all the attendings agree that it is unnecessary – quite different from immoral).

    It works quite well and I suspect this is what MOST doctors do.

    What is sad is that anyone had to even write a law like this and that Barack isn’t planning on getting rid of it when he gets into office. Dubya must have known that.

  24. i do not think that these kind of things should be a LAW at all

  25. Have you all seen this?

    Barry is still just a Senator, right?

    SCOTUS To Discuss Obama Birth Certificate Case on January 9


  26. scrubs57, on December 20th, 2008 at 3:37 pm Said:

    What you refer to as “unwritten law” is what I call allowing civil society to develop its own norms. By this, I mean that instead of the government or anybody else coming to you and dictating that YOU MUST do x or y, you and your colleagues have created a tacit self-governing norm. That is the ideal of liberal society: government has its sphere; professionals have theirs; religions have theirs. It is the opposite of a totalitarian mentality.

  27. Here is something I just don’t understand. If a President believes in his ideology so much why don’t he enact crap like this on his 1st day in office. That way it could be the law of the land for 4 years maybe 8. Doing it during his last few days in office makes no sense. It could be overturned fairly quickly. I guess it is the power of ones convictions to always do the right thing, especially since he had 6 years of a Republican congress that just wouldn’t have stood for such a thing.

  28. The law of cause and effect —

    Or the law of unintended consequences.

    These boys just want to control women – and when taken to the logical conclusion as Frank Herbet does in DUNE — means the elimination of women — but not their reproductive “tanks”.

    Before the “women’s liberation” movement of the 60s & 70s women were all but written out of the text books used in schools. As far as I could tell women mostly did not exist in American history and there were NO women writers, not women artists.

    Things haven’t come that far — little men are still trying to eliminate women. I don’t expect Obama to make any changes to any of the negative new anti-women rules inacted by the bush gang.

    One would never know that women are 50% of the population.

  29. greg:

    It’s a strategy.

    Bush won’t catch much hell from the left for enacting it because he’s gonna be gone.

    The GOP will resist changing it back and blame Obama (or whatever Democrat) for changing it back. Of course they’ll act like it was always the law, not a last minute change by G-Dub.

  30. NR:

    They weren’t “written out” – they were never written in.

    Of course, look at who was doing the writing – white men.

    There wasn’t a whole lot in the text books about non-white men either.

  31. Northwest Rain: Women are fifty one percent f the population. A majority that is often treated like a minority – because in too many areas of public life we make up a minority of those in the sphere. Hence the new organization: 51 Percent.

  32. Heidi:

    Sadly, too many women don’t support women.

    If every woman voted exclusively for candidates who support women’s rights, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

    But you already knew that.

  33. myiq2xu:
    I believe, with all my heart, that there are enough people in this country – men and women – who believe that women’s rights are human rights. Enough people who understand human rights as rooted in a fundamental respect for everybody’s dignity, such that we can invite each other to make investing in the fight against a totalitarian state – one that does not leave other public spheres alone, spheres that give people the opportunity to function in the public but apart from the government.

    On that note, please consider checking Potpourri for information about 51 Percent, one of many groups resisting totalitarianism from the left and the right.

    51 Percent has now been put up on Yahoo Buzz and Digg. The quicker 51 Percent is up and running and faster we spread the word about it, the sooner we begin to discuss the connection between violence done to women qua women, the better.

    You can find links to Buzz and Digg and the latest on 51 Percent at

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