A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proposed rule that would more vigorously protect health care providers’ ability to deny coverage in certain circumstances because of moral or religious beliefs should be withdrawn, according to a coalition of state attorneys general.
The proposed rule would strengthen the enforcement of existing regulations that allow providers to invoke conscientious objections as a basis for refusing to provide care that involves certain medical issues, including abortion, sterilization, assisted suicide and others. It also would allow individual providers to object to informing patients about their medical options or referring them to providers of those options. . . [Full Text]
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing a Washington state public hospital district, claiming that it is failing to provide medical and surgical abortions. In fact, the hospital district provides both, but refers patients to other facilities for abortion when they cannot be provided in one of the district hospitals because of conscientious objection to the procedure by staff. It thus appears that the ACLU is not content with forcing facilities to refer for abortion, but intends to force them to provide the procedure despite conscientious objection by physicians and health care workers. [Reuters]
In one of the last photographs my family took of my grandmother, she looks as if she’s been in a fistfight. Jean Bass Tinsley is lying in a hospital bed in Athens, Georgia, wearing a turquoise button-up shirt and staring blankly at the camera. A bandage obscures her fractured skull, along with the bridge of her bloodied nose. She is 91 years old.
My grandmother essentially did this to herself. In June 2013, she fell out of her wheelchair headfirst, after ignoring her caregivers’ warnings not to get out of bed without help. Earlier that year, she’d broken both of her hips, in separate falls. Before that, her pelvis-all while trying to do what for most of her life she’d managed just fine on her own: walk.
In her last year, dementia crept into my grandmother’s mind. The staff at her long-term-care facility plotted ways to protect her from herself. It’s against the law in Georgia to restrain patients in such facilities, so they lowered her bed to the floor and put a pad down next to it. They even installed an alarm that went off if she left her mattress. My grandmother disabled the alarm, moved the pad and freed herself, repeatedly. In the end, she was both too weak and too strong. [Full text]
The Washington State Department of Health has posted a web page that lists all of the hospitals in the state, together with their policies on admission, non-discrimination, end of life care, and reproductive health care. The page makes it possible for those seeking morally contested procedures to locate hospitals willing to provide them, while allowing hospitals that do not provide them to provide notice of that fact. This should help to minimize inconvenience and conflict.
The Washington State branch of the ACLU has prepared a petition to the state Governor to “ensure that religious ideology does not dictate the health care services a patient may choose.” The organization asserts that patients are put “at risk” when hospitals are subject to religious guidelines. [NCR]