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Please submit comments to HHS by April 9

March 26, 2009

Since the 1970’s, laws have existed to protect health care employees from being forced to perform/assist/refer procedures (e.g., abortion, sterilization, contraceptives/abortifacients) that they find morally offensive. But those laws are not always properly enforced, nor are medical students/employees always properly informed of their rights.

  • Workplaces display posters describing worker compensation, etc. rights. Similarly, health care workers should receive training and notification of their rights for conscientious objection.
  • Employees have faced discrimination in hiring, promotions, salaries, etc. when they exercised their rights.
  • Medical students who choose to opt out of training for morally objectionable practices also face discrimination for their choices.


Amidst an atmosphere demanding “full access” to “reproductive rights,” in 2008 the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed a rule intended to enforce the existing protection laws more effectively.

  • HHS held an open comment period for citizens to voice pros and cons of the proposed rule.
  • HHS determined the rule was necessary and made it effective in January 2009.


But now, the new U.S. administration intends to rescind (i.e., cancel) that enforcement rule.

  • Doing so could eventually force doctors, nurses, pharmacists, hospitals, etc. to either violate their consciences or leave the profession.
  • The result could severely limit health care access if there become fewer people and institutions providing that care.
  • HHS has opened a new public comment period. 


It is very important to keep the rule and strengthen protection for conscience rights of health care employees, students, and institutions. Please help by submitting a comment and by encouraging other people to do so! This is how you can help keep the enforcement rule in place:

  • Submit a comment.
  • Be informed so that you can inform and motivate others!
    • A one-page Action Alert is available at for distribution in your place of worship and anywhere else you are likely to meet people who support the rights of health care workers to conscientiously object to participate in morally offensive practices.
    • See more information at
    • See also “Evidence of Need for Conscience Protections” at
    • Learn more and/or report discrimination at

090406 update: See post for 090406 for new ID number!

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