Bush extends “medical conscience” rules to artificial insemination

The Los Angeles Times sheds some light on a disappointing measure proposed by the Bush administration in its last days. The outgoing 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, artificial insemination and birth control.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Christian Medical Association approve of the measure. Health and Human Services Dept. officials say the rule would apply to “any entity” that receives federal funds – which amounts to an estimated 4,800 hospitals, 234,000 doctor’s offices and 58,000 pharmacies.

In California, a physician refused to perform artificial insemination for a lesbian couple. In August, the California Supreme Court ruled that this refusal amounted to illegal discrimination based on sexual orientation.