The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions wrapped up its hearing on Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of education at 8:45 last night, and will be back at 10 this morning to hold another confirmation hearing. Up today: Trump’s pick for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.).
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the so-called “Conscience Protection Act” in July in a bid to allow healthcare providers to refuse to perform an extremely broad range of activities related to abortion care.
Proponents said the measure (H.R. 4828) is designed to prevent anyone from being forced to assist with abortion, but critics, including Americans United, argued that the bill is so broadly written that it would also allow hospitals, insurance companies, and even employers, to refuse to cover or provide an array of services under the guise of religious liberty.
Georgia’s broad “conscience clauses” are under renewed scrutiny due to reports that a pharmacist refused to fill a prescription for a drug some abortion opponents don’t like. According to Brittany Cartrett, a Walmart pharmacy blocked her prescription for Misoprostol. Cartrett needed the drug to manage a natural miscarriage, but it is also often prescribed to induce medical abortions.
In a rare moment of clarity, some Kansas lawmakers are reportedly hesitant to vote for a measure that would define “religious liberty” as a license to discriminate against same-sex couples.
The Kansas House of Representatives voted 72-49 last week in favor of a bill that would permit any individual, group or private business to turn away same-sex couples if providing a service would violate their religious beliefs.
A graduate counseling student at Eastern Michigan University refused, as part of her required practicum, to counsel any University client who might require advice about a homosexual relationship or a relationship involving sexual activity outside of marriage. Although the student stated that her religious beliefs prohibited her from counseling patients on these topics, she was expelled by the University for refusing to fulfill program requirements.
Last week, the Obama administration did something that didn’t capture much media attention but should have: It officially overturned a bad policy from the Bush years and issued a series of final regulations dealing with health care and the right of “conscience.”
The Washington Board of Pharmacy has made a wise (and unexpected) move.
Last night, the board voted 5-1 to keep in place a rule that protects patients’ rights. The regulation ensures that a pharmacy cannot refuse to fill prescriptions for “time-sensitive” medication, such as Plan B pills that can help prevent pregnancy after intercourse, just because it conflicts with the pharmacist’s “conscience” or religious beliefs.
I guess it's a little impertinent for me to issue a report card for President Barack Obama on his performance during his first 100 days in office. I'm not his teacher, and he's not my student.
But what the heck? It's a free country and everyone else is doing it. So here goes.
I'm focusing on issues with church-state implications. Somebody else can tackle the other topics.