When Law And Ethics Converge: Goodbye To The Trump Administration’s Unconstitutional and Unethical “Conscience Clause”

Today’s decision by U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer, voiding the Trump administration’s “conscience rule” that resuscitated the Bush Administration’s similar rule, is right on the law, and, more important for this blog, right on ethics. The Trump version, which was yet to go into effect,  allowed health-care providers to refuse to participate in abortions, sterilizations or other types of care they if they disagreed with them on religious or moral grounds.

It was an invitation to open-ended discrimination, and as objectionable in principle as allowing public accommodations to refuse to serve Jews, blacks or gays. This topic has been thoroughly explored on Ethics Alarms over the years, and I don’t have anything much new to say. In fact, perusing my various essays on the topic, my favorite is one that is so old, it was on the Ethics Alarms predecessor the Ethics Scoreboard (on which I am slowly making progress in my efforts to get it back online) and mentions Paris Hilton, working at Blockbuster, and an earlier incarnation of Colin Kaepernick in the NBA.

I wrote, in 2005, Continue reading

Good-bye and Good Riddance to Bush’s Unethical “Conscience Clause”

The Obama Administration has deep-sixed a controversial Bush Administration rule that permitted a wide variety of health care workers to  refuse to administer treatments they found morally repugnant, what the Bush administration termed workers’ “right of conscience.”

Hospitals and clinics faced a loss of federal funds if they failed to uphold the rule, which itself was ethically repugnant. Kudos, thanks and hosannas to President Obama for getting rid of the Federal variety; some states, regrettably, still have them.

The American Medical Association’s position on the matter, embodied in a resolution passed by its membership, is clear and well-reasoned. Its reasoning applies to health care workers though the specific subject of the resolution was pharmacist conscience clauses.

The AMA’s resolution, “Preserving Patients’ Ability To Have Legally Valid Prescriptions Filled,” states: Continue reading