Prior to leaving office, the Bush Administration enacted a set of rules designed to protect the freedom of conscience for those working in the health care system. The rules allow for health care workers to refuse participation in abortions or other medical activities that contradict their religious beliefs. Passed in December, the law went into effect on January 20, the day of President Obama’s Inauguration.
The biggest controversy surrounding the rule is that applies prohibitive restrictions to health care organizations that receive government funding. Organizations that do accept taxpayer dollars will be barred from firing health professionals that refuse to perform abortions or offer referrals. The Planned Parenthood Federation of America took a firm stance against the new policy stating that, “the rule would make it hard for women to get legal services such as contraception and abortion counseling.”
The Obama administration has moved to revoke the new rule following a 30 day public comment period. The paradox we are left with is whether this will be a step forward or a step backwards for religious freedom.