Here’s the first info sheet I put together about the new DHHS rule for my school’s chapter of lsrj.
The Department of Health and Human Services has issued a final rule “to ensure that Department funds do not support morally coercive or discriminatory practices or policies in violation of federal law, pursuant to the Church Amendments (42 U.S.C. 300a-7), Public Health Service (PHS) Act § 245 (42 U.S.C. 238n), and the Weldon > Amendment (Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008, Public Law 110-161, Div. G, § 508(d), 121 Stat. 1844, 2209).”
What it says: Recipients of federal funds cannot compel individuals or institutions in the healthcare field into participating in or assisting in actions they find morally or religiously objectionable. The stated > purpose of the rule is to prevent discrimination against those who refuse to perform particular services based on a moral or religious objection.
-An institution receiving federal funds cannot refuse to hire on the basis that a candidate refuses to perform or assist in particular services due to a religious or moral conviction. Health care personnel covered by the rule may range from doctors to “an employee whose task it is to clean the instruments used in a particular procedure.”
-Healthcare personnel/entities cannot be forced to perform or assist in procedures they have an objection to at all. This means that once they refuse to perform, they do not have to assist the patient in obtaining the treatment at all.
-The Department has refused to define abortion as excluding contraception
-Pharmacists are still included under the conscience rule.
-The Department has also refused to define moral or religious objections. The Department doesn’t require the objections to be consistently applied.
What it means:
Access and information about reproductive health services will be dependant upon the moral or religious objections of provider you visit.
-Moral and religious objections remain undefined which allows for discrimination so long as the objections are framed as moral or religious in nature. Providers can easily refuse to serve entire federally protected groups–as long as they say the decision is based in morality or religion.
-Since abortion remains undefined, this allows providers to refuse to perform any service that is considered a form of abortion. Hormonal birth control, Intra Uterine Devices, and sterilization procedures have all been called forms of abortion before.
-Emergency contraception is also endangered by the rule. Providers are not required to counsel about it, provide it, or direct a patient to a provider that will. Whether a rape survivor can get emergency contraception in the reccommended 72 hours after the attack will depend on the hospital the rapist leaves them closest to.
-Moral or religious objection can also cover healthcare > providers that refuse to counsel about or provide free non hormonal birth control such as condoms.
In an emergency situation where a patient requires immediate care, they may not receive it if the procedure required goes against the morality of even assisting personnel. The patient will have to wait while the hospital locates someone willing to assist.
-Title X funds will now be available to crisis pregnancy centers that refuse to counsel patients about the availability of abortion.
-The Department simultaneously claims that access to reproductive health services will not be threatened and that decreases in services are proof positive that the rule works to help providers regain their moral compass.
“If access to any service significantly declined with the implementation of this rule and all other factors remained unchanged, that fact could be evidence that health care providers in question had previously been compelled to deliver the service over their conscience objections.”
The morality or religion of your healthcare provider can control whether or not you are informed about all of your reproductive options, and whether you will have access to those options. Your pharmacist can also control whether or not you receive any prescriptions your healthcare provider has deemed necessary.