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Oh, yes, he did, damn his soul:

The Bush administration today issued a sweeping new regulation that protects a broad range of health care workers -- from doctors to janitors -- who refuse to participate in providing services that they believe violates their personal, moral or religious beliefs.

The controversial rule empowers federal health officials to cut off federal funding for any state or local government, hospital, clinic, health plan, doctors' office or other entity if they do not accommodate employees who exercise their "right of conscience." It would apply to more than 584,000 health care facilities.

"Doctors and other health care providers should not be forced to choose between good professional standing and violating their conscience," Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said in a statement.

The regulation, which was issued just in time to take effect in the 30 days before the change of administrations, was sought by conservative groups, abortion opponents and others as necessary to safeguard workers from being fired, disciplined or penalized in other ways.

According to Planned Parenthood, Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Patty Murray previously introduced legislation to prevent Bush from enacting just such sweeping regulations, and Rep. Louise Slaughter and Rep. Diana DeGette took the lead in introducing similar legislation in the House. They weren't the only ones objecting, according to the Washington Post article:

The proposed regulation prompted a flood of comments. Twenty-eight senators, more than 110 House members and more than a dozen state attorneys general have voiced opposition, along with a variety of major medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Hospital Association. Three officials at the Equal Employment Opportunity Council (EEOC), which is charged with protecting workers' rights, have said the rule duplicates existing protections of religious freedom.

The rule is supported by a variety of conservative groups, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Catholic Health Association, which represents Catholic hospitals, the Christian Medical Association and the Family Research Council.

"This is a huge victory for religious freedom and the First Amendment," said Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, a socially conservative group that opposes abortion. "No one should be forced to have an abortion, and no one should be forced to be an abortionist. These regulations will ensure that conscience protection statutes will be strongly enforced by the government in the same manner as our other civil rights laws."

Any time you have the Family Research Council celebrating "a huge victory for religious freedom and the First Amendment," you can be damn certain a huge constituency got screwed. Hey, women! As usual with these folks, it's your turn!

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Dec 18, 2008 at 09:40 AM PST.

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