The Christian Media Association® (CMA) {part of the Christian Medical And Dental Associations® (CMDA)} released their response to the Healthcare Reform bill that passed the house on Sunday, March 21, 2010. Their take on Healthcare Reform is as follows:

The nation’s largest association of faith-based physicians, the 17,000-member Christian Medical Association (CMA, ), today lamented the passage of a sweeping healthcare overhaul bill that lacks strong conscience protections, saying the gap could lead to a crisis of health care for poor patients.

Thumbnail Link to Media Release: CMA Physicians: Without Strong Conscience Protections, Bill Imperils Poor Patients“Millions of poor patients and those in medically underserved areas currently depend on care from faith-based hospitals, clinics and physicians who follow life-affirming ethical standards such as those found in the Hippocratic oath and the Judeo-Christian Scriptures,” noted CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens.

National polling reveals that 95 percent of faith-based physicians say they will be forced to leave medicine without conscience protections. Since the bill passed by Congress does not include strong conscience protections, it opens the door to an increase in discrimination against physicians, hospitals and clinics that decline to participate in abortion and other morally controversial procedures.”

While several longstanding federal laws passed on a bipartisan basis over the past 35 years have offered strong conscience protections, President Obama has announced plans to rescind the only federal regulation that implements those laws. The Senate bill passed by the House on Sunday does not prohibit discrimination by the government or healthcare facilities against healthcare professionals who attempt to follow their conscience on abortion and other morally controversial procedures. The Senate had declined to pass a strong conscience-protecting amendment offered by one of its two physicians, Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn.

Dr. Stevens added, “The last-minute deal for an Executive Order relating to abortion and conscience-the deal that changed the ‘No’ votes of pro-life Democrats to ‘Yes’–was like trading a birthright for a mess of pottage. The executive order, which added no additional conscience protections whatsoever, can be changed tomorrow by this President, or later by any subsequent President, with the stroke of a pen. The healthcare bill, meanwhile, becomes permanent law.”

CMA summarized its position on other aspects of the healthcare bill, including government funding of abortion, in a recent letter to Congress . CMA also coordinates the Freedom2Care ( ) coalition of 50 organizations supporting conscience rights in health care.

The national polling on conscience related language related to women’s right to choose — often referred to simply as the conscience clause — is not in the slightest the same conscience clause language that the CMDA is lamenting over.

[More below the fold on exactly what the CMA actually wants in the way of a conscience clause.]Thumbnail Link to Health And Human Services Memorandum: Rescission of the Regulation Entitled 'Ensuring That Department of Health and Human Services Funds Do Not Support Coercive or Discriminatory Policies or Practices in Violation of Federal Law'; ProposalNo, the conscience clause the CMDA is lamenting — language which of course wasn’t included in the Healthcare Reform bill — is the conscience clause the Bush Administration proposed in its final months in office. That Bush Administration proposed conscience clause would not only have not only impacted healthcare related to women’s right to choose by making every single health care worker who is in the treatment chain to have the legal right to object to providing birth control and family planning related services to women, but would have effected lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people’s access to healthcare by allowing every single health care worker who is in the treatment chain to deny treatment because they find treatments immoral (such as HIV/AIDS related treatments to gay men, or hormones or breast enhancement/breast removal for trans people), or even simply find the “lifestyles” of LGBT people objectionable.

From what I wrote in the Pam’s House Blend diary Bush Administration ‘Right Of Conscience’ Regulation May Impact Your Healthcare Treatment about the Right of Conscience rules that the CMDA supported:

The Los Angeles Times has a piece up this morning entitled Broader medical refusal rule may go far beyond abortion. The subheader for the piece is The Bush administration plans a new ‘right of conscience’ rule that would allow more workers to refuse more procedures. Critics say it could apply to artificial insemination and birth control. From the piece:

For more than 30 years, federal law has dictated that doctors and nurses may refuse to perform abortions. The new rule would go further by making clear that healthcare workers also may refuse to provide information or advice to patients who might want an abortion.

The outgoing Bush administration is planning to announce a broad new ‘right of conscience’ rule permitting medical facilities, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare workers to refuse to participate in any procedure they find morally objectionable, including abortion and possibly even artificial insemination and birth control.It also seeks to cover more employees. For example, in addition to a surgeon and a nurse in an operating room, the rule would extend to “an employee whose task it is to clean the instruments,” the draft rule said.

…Health and Human Services Department officials said the rule would apply to “any entity” that receives federal funds. It estimated 584,000 entities could be covered, including 4,800 hospitals, 234,000 doctor’s offices and 58,000 pharmacies.

Not mentioned is that transsexuals like me might have difficulties receiving hormone prescriptions, or filling hormone prescriptions because of religious convictions of providers.

Thumbnail Link To Bush Administration Health And Human Services' 'Right of Conscience' Regulation, dtd August 8, 2008And from the same diary:

…Dr. Gene Rudd, Executive Vice President of the CMA, noted…”The regulations reportedly under consideration at Health and Human Services apparently would simply protect the right for all healthcare professionals to make professional judgments based on moral convictions and ethical standards. Protecting this right also protects patients who choose their physicians based on life-affirming values.”

It doesn’t protect those of us who don’t pick our physicians based on these “Christian” values. This is because even if we pick a physician based on our own values, it doesn’t protect those of us who receive objectionable services from nurses, medical technicians, and staff of our chosen physician — or from pharmacist technicians, pharmacist staff, and pharmacists themselves — who don’t want provide medical services to us because we, our medical conditions, or the treatments for our medical conditions, offend these ancillary people in the healthcare service chain.

Let’s not mince words here. The conservative “Christian” leadership of the Christian Medical Association want Christian Dominionism…a Christian theocracy. They want their beliefs and values protected by law; they don’t want contrary beliefs and values protected by law.

Thank the lesser gods that the Christian Medical Association gets to be whiney losers.



* HHS “Right of Conscience” Regulation Repeal To Be Announced Today

* Not Outing Myself In A VA Healthcare Setting When I Probably Should Have

* Bush Administration ‘Right Of Conscience’ Regulation May Impact Your Healthcare Treatment

Autumn Sandeen

Autumn Sandeen