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For Immediate Release

Secular Coalition for America

Press Release

Bush Administration Puts Religion Above Medicine in HSS Conscience Rule; Undermines Patient Rights


The Bush administration today implemented the Provider
Conscience Regulation (RIN 0991-AB48) through the Department of Health
and Human Services (HHS).  Its purpose is to allow medical personnel
and volunteers to refuse to participate in any practice they find morally
objectionable. This rule has been widely criticized for the effects it
will have on OB/GYN care; however, other areas of patient care will also
be compromised under this rule and many groups of Americans could see
their medical treatment undermined as a result.

The Secular Coalition for America wrote to HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt
to express its concerns in August of 2008 when the rule was first
proposed.  Today, the Secular Coalition’s director, Lori Lipman
Brown, issued the following statement in response to the rule’s
“The so-called Provider Conscience rule flies in the face of the
fundamental principle that the rights of one citizen end where the rights
of another begin. The sweeping language of this rule shows an alarming
indifference to the rights of patients in publicly funded health care
“I am especially worried about end of life care under this new rule. The
Terri Schiavo ordeal, in which Congress intervened to impose a biblical
value about human life onto a family struggling with a difficult medical
decision, mobilized untold numbers of Americans to arrange for advance
directives should they become unable to express their wishes during a
medical crisis. This new rule tells Americans that their wishes matter
less than the religious beliefs of the nurse or doctor who happens to be
treating them.
“While we are glad to hear that the incoming Obama administration plans
to review this rule after taking office next year, we are saddened to
think how many people will be denied vital medical services because the
Bush administration is once again privileging religion over science and
The Secular Coalition for America’s original letter to Secretary Leavitt
can be read here:



The Secular Coalition for America represents nine national coalition
partners who share the view that a secular government offers the best
guarantee for freedom of thought and belief for all Americans. It works
to protect the civil rights of nontheistic Americans, and lobbies the
U.S. Congress on issues of concern to its constituents. The Coalition's
website is

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