Editorial, Opinion

STAFF EDIT: Unconscionable actions

In the final days of President George W. Bush’s term in office, the outgoing administration has brought politics into the doctor’s office. The ‘Provider Conscience’ regulation was implemented to guarantee health care professionals their right to practice in accordance with their personal moral standard. Ultimately, the effects of this new regulation, which goes into effect next week, infringe on women’s reproductive rights by limiting their access to abortion as well as birth control and emergency contraception.

A health care professional’s personal beliefs should not interfere with his responsibility to serve the best interests of the patient. Women should be trusted to determine what is best for their own bodies and have the legal right to do so. Even more troubling is the notion that pharmacists will have the authority to overrule a doctor’s prescription. If both the doctor and the patient have decided what is in the patient’s best interest, then pharmacists have no place interfering.

Finding another doctor to perform an abortion or prescribe birth control may be little more than an inconvenience for some people, but women who are in dire financial straits and without insurance coverage might have nowhere else to turn. Furthermore, if women are denied birth control or emergency contraception, it will only result in unwanted pregnancies. Unable to obtain emergency contraception, a woman who does not want to have a baby will have no choice but to seek an abortion, a situation both supporters and opponents of the regulation would rather avoid.

While the Bush administration is clearly targeting abortion, the vagueness of this regulation is a glaring problem. The new federal rule states that health care workers cannot be punished ‘for refusal to participate in health services or research activities that may violate their consciences.’ Taking this overly broad approach will only create confusion and open the floodgates to abuse.

In California, one of the states suing the federal government regarding the ‘conscience’ regulation, seriously ill patients are legally allowed to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. If Californian doctors are morally opposed to smoking pot, should this mean that the patient must continue to suffer? The federal government needs to answer these kinds of questions promptly to clear things up.

On the other hand, Oregon, which is also suing the federal government, allows physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients, but does not require physicians to do so if it is against their beliefs. While some view euthanasia as an act of kindness, others view it as murder. As such, doctors should not be forced to carry out an act they view as morally criminal. However, while it is important to acknowledge this counterargument, ending human life is hardly the same as providing emergency contraception, which prevents life from taking root rather than ending it.

There is no need for the federal government to be interfering with the doctor-patient relationship. When the Obama administration takes office next week, it should do everything in its power to repeal this misguided regulation as soon as possible.

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  1. Ah and here is the religious speaker. Medicine is science, not faith. Politics is government not religion. Anytime you start to mix any of these is when the gray line emerges. Bottom line, I have no right to tell you what to believe, but noone has the right to mandate what I or you believe. In other words, everybody politely needs to stay out of each others personal decisions. If a doctor feels uncomfortable they should make a referral, but the long term effects of this law are too large. The ball is not the federal governments to catch. It is each and every person’s. Repeal the provision and let everyone lead their life as they see fit, because if you believe in a higher being you should know judgment is not supposed to be in your hands anyhow.

  2. People are quick to launch an attack against a law that they may or may not be in line with. The sad part is the fact that the thinking usually stops at that point. A good exercise in the “Cause and Effect” of laws should be should be evaluated before anyone is allowed to touch a keyboard and voice an opinion. The writer of this pretty much lost my support when they found the need to use words and phrases that clearly have less to do with the laws they wish to challenge, and more to do with yet another infantile attack against the government, which has become so predictable from many a campus these days.

  3. Some people believe life begins when sperm meets egg; saying emergency contraception is “preventing life from taking root” is thus inaccurate from that perspective. It is also ending life, albeit life of another kind and in the very early stages. Also, most abortions are not because of rape or incest (these circumstances make up less than one percent of reasons abortions are sought). Thus, doctors should not have to murder, if they believe it is murder, because a couple did not take proper precautions in the first place. This is freeing doctors, not oppressing women.