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Obama administration pulling 'conscience' protections for health workers

[JURIST] The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) [official website] gave notice to the White House Office of Management and Budget Friday that it was preparing to rescind a Bush administration regulation [text] protecting healthcare workers who refuse to fulfill medical services that violate their moral principles. The regulation, which was entered into the Federal Register on December 19, 2008, came into effect on January 20, just before the change in administration, and expressly limited potential actions brought by recipients of federal funding. Supporters of the regulation include the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops [organization website] and the Catholic Health Association [organization website], which believe that it protects the consciences of some health practitioners. Opponents of the regulation include theAmerican Medical Association [organization website] and Planned Parenthood [organization website], which believe it rewards those who deny women some types of medical services, including abortions. The official announcement of intent by the Obama administration is expected [NYT report] next week.

Obama repealed an international abortion funding restriction [JURIST report] in January, which refused federal funding to all international family planning organizations that provided information or counseling about abortions. In December, 13 state attorney generals protested the provisions of a similar proposed rule [JURIST report] that would limit women's access to abortion based on the religious beliefs of their medical providers.

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