By Rob Stein
“Deep within the massive health-care overhaul legislation, a few little-noticed provisions have quietly reignited one of the bitterest debates in medicine: how to balance the right of doctors, nurses and other workers to refuse to provide services on moral or religious grounds with the right of patients to get care.”
Advocates for protecting health workers argue the new law leaves vulnerable those with qualms about abortion, morning-after pills, stem cell research and therapies, assisted suicide and a host of other services. Proponents of patients’ rights, meanwhile, contend that, if anything, the legislation favors those who oppose some end-of-life therapies and the termination of pregnancies and creates new obstacles for dying patients and women seeking abortions.”
“For their part, abortion-rights advocates are alarmed that the legislation did not include equal defenses for health-care workers who perform abortions. With abortion providers dwindling in number as they face protests and sometimes even violence, advocates fear the legislation will lead health plans to exclude doctors still willing to terminate pregnancies.
‘What made it through is a lopsided conscience protection,’ said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, a nonprofit group based in New York. ‘In a country where 87 percent of U.S. counties don’t have an abortion provider, where abortion providers are murdered and harassed, you really need protections for those who advocate for both performing and referring for abortions. Not the other way around.'”