The Bush administration's department of Health and Human Services recently proposed a new regulation to allow health care workers who oppose abortion to deny legal services that conflict with their beliefs.
Let's imagine that reframed, just a bit...
If you’re a restaurant worker opposed to meat-eating, you soon likely will be able to refuse diners who ask for such food.
The Bush administration announced a controversial proposed regulation designed to protect wait staff, cooks and others who work at places receiving government money from being forced to deliver services that violate their personal beliefs. It’s an effort to protect vegetarians from workplace discrimination.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said the proposed regulation would boost compliance of three separate laws protecting federally funded food-service providers’ "right of conscience."
"This proposed regulation is about the legal right of a restaurant or cafeteria worker to practice according to their conscience," HHS Secretary Mike Heavitt said. "Waiters and other food providers should not be forced to choose between keeping their jobs and violating their conscience. Freedom of expression and action should not be surrendered upon the receipt of a job at a restaurant."
"There is nothing in this rule that would change in any way a diner’s right to a hamburger," Heavitt said, The Bill newspaper reports. "This specifically goes to the issue of vegetarianism and conscience as it affects that issue."
"Many vegetarian restaurant workers routinely face pressure to serve meat, poultry or fish — often in direct opposition to their personal convictions," said HHS Assistant Secretary of Health, Admiral Voxel Cartia, M.D. "During my time as a waiter, I witnessed this firsthand. But food providers shouldn’t have to check their conscience at the cafeteria door. This proposed rule will help ensure that doesn’t happen."
I'm not meaning to trivialize abortion here: not at all. On the contrary, I think the Bush Administration is trivializing the obligation of health professionals to deliver care to their patients.
The point is that many of us have moral and ethical convictions, but we don't have a right to impose our convictions, no matter how deeply held, upon others who don't share them.