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Whatever happened to Obama's "move" to rescind the "conscience clause" rule?

Valhalla's picture

Avedon tags an Idaho pharmacist's refusal to provide a non-abortifacient medication:

“Methergine is not an abortifacient and it serves multiple purposes in postpartum care,” the practitioner wrote in her complaint. “I believe the pharmacist wrongly applied the conscience protections.
....
Planned Parenthood officials said in the complaint that the pharmacist inquired if the patient needed the drug for post-abortion care. The nurse refused to answer the question based on confidentiality of health information.

According to Planned Parenthood, the pharmacist then stated that if the nurse practitioner did not disclose that information, she would not fill the prescription. The nurse alleged that the pharmacist hung up when asked for a referral to another pharmacy that would fill the prescription.

In 2008, Bush pushed through last-minute regulations which would allow health care workers to refuse to participate in any services which would violate their moral convictions. Planned Parenthood's complaint discusses this incident in terms of Idaho's refusal law only, not the federal reg, but it prompted me to wonder whatever happened to Bush's midnight regs.

Not much, as it turns out. Obama and HHS proposed a rescission of the rule, to much attention, in March 2009. The comment period for the rescission ended in April. And...nothing. The most recent comments posted on the federal comments site (look for docket id HHS-OPHS-2009-0001) are from Dec 2009. The only other update I could find was Our Bodies, Ourselves post saying that HHS received 1000s of comments and was wading through them, in July 2009. The original Bush reg evidently still stands, as of last week.

Does anyone know any different? (chasing down negatives is so annoyingly time-consuming). Funny how Bush was able to get the regs rammed through in no time, but Obama's still (maybe) reviewing comments. At this point, pointing out yet another Obama failure for women is almost boring. Also almost boring is pointing out yet another case in which Obama made a big liberal noise as if he were going to do something, leading many to believe he actually did do something, then fade into the sunset. I never did expect he'd do jack on the refusal rule, but after seeing the Idaho case I figured I might as well try to confirm.

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Submitted by lambert on

Though I have to say what either the administration is doing good by stealth very, very effectively, or they've deep-sixed it.

From the right wing, it looks like the so-called conscience clause is still in place.

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

through Google (for pages posted within the last month) came up with a bit of info on this from an anti-abortion site (I'd rather not link them). Apparently, Connecticut is suing to overturn the federal "conscience clause" rule, and on December 1 the Obama administration filed documents in the case stating that "HHS still cannot be certain of a date for completing the rulemaking" and "HHS expects to have a final rule published in the Federal Register within sixty to ninety days – i.e., as early as January 31, 2011, and no later than March 1, 2011."

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

(although I'll believe it when I see it, the rule rescission I mean). I did run through some anti-abortion sites, since sadly they seem to keep a very close watch on these things -- a better watch than PP or NARAL, except when the latter are emailing me to ask for money. But I could only take so many. Thanks for wading through them!

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

Agreed on the "I'll believe it when I see it".
Regarding NARAL and PP - I've volunteered with NARAL in the past, but no longer - after the Obama endorsement in the primaries...then watching NARAL and PP go totally useless veal pen with the Stupak deals....

votermom's picture
Submitted by votermom on

- not.

Or rather, if it does happen, I will happily apologize to the Obama admin about doubting their intentions.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

To rescind the clause when Obama became President. What happened then is that the usual suspects in the anti-choice crowd had conniption fits, and Obama instituted a "review and comment period," during which both he and HHS Secretary Sebelius came out in favor of "robust" conscience clauses. The whole thing disappeared for two years.

If Obama really planned to overturn this abomination, he would have done so immediately. My guess is that if he does do something, it will be watered down enough that it makes no difference, but "progressives" will call it a victory and tell all us wimminz to stop complaining about Obama.