Rule seeks to protect healthcare workers

Dec. 18, 2008 at 7:36 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- The White House issued a new regulation Thursday that protects healthcare workers who refuse to participate in services that violate their beliefs.

The 127-page regulation was sought by conservative groups and abortion foes, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Catholic Health Association and the Family Research Council, The Washington Post reported.

The rule empowers federal health officials to cut off federal funding to any state or local government, hospital, clinic, health plan, doctors' office or other entity if they do not accommodate employees who exercise their "right of conscience," the Post reported.

"Doctors and other healthcare providers should not be forced to choose between good professional standing and violating their conscience," Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said in a statement.

The 127-page regulation was sought by conservative groups and abortion foes, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Catholic Health Association and the Family Research Council, the newspaper reported.

President-elect Barack Obama's administration could reverse the rule. Last month, Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Patty Murphy, D-Wash., introduced a bill to repeal the regulation legislatively.

The rule will go into effect in 30 days and gives entities until Oct. 1, 2009 to provide written certification of their compliance.

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