President Bush is promulgating a host of new rules and regulations in the waning days of his presidency. One of these 'midnight regulations' was issued last week: a new 'conscience rule' for medical providers. These rules are meant to protect health care workers from being forced to provide medical procedures to which they object on religious or moral grounds. "Doctors and other health care providers should not be forced to choose between good professional standing and violating their conscience," Michael O. Leavitt, secretary of Health and Human Services (pictured at left), said in a statement.These rules have been the subject of much debate, especially when the topics at issue are abortion or contraception.
The propriety, necessity, and reach of such rules is a topic that Holly Fernandez Lynch explores at great length in Conflicts of Conscience in Health Care: An Institutional Compromise. Lynch is an associate at Hogan & Hartson in Washington, and her book, as the subtitle indicates, tries to find a middle ground between the demands of the right to care, on the one hand, and freedom of conscience and religion on the other.