Friday, February 27, 2009

Count it, anti-choicers!

Total slam dunk: The Obama team is going to repeal the asshattery known as the "conscience rule" - a tricksy little parting gift from the Bush administration that allows medical professionals to deny patients abortions on moral grounds. As far as I know, this moral decision could override medical necessity or the incidence of rape and/or incest. Once this rolls back, a doctor's personal beliefs cannot affect a woman's health or the difficult choices she must make.

I'm all about personal freedom and responsibility for one's choices. I'm all about being able to air beliefs publicly and to have those beliefs respected. For some medical professionals, the Conscience Rule was a godsend because it allowed them a legal recourse for a difficult personal and professional decision. I sincerely do not envy the pro-life doctor who is asked to perform an abortion, and I hope that someone who disagrees with me out there can say the same thing in some inverse way (maybe, "I don't envy the queer who gets told regularly that she's in the wrong bathroom"). That said, a decision about one's own body is not fundamentally a doctor's decision. A doctor advises and performs their job, but the patient must make their own medical decisions or have an agent or guardian make the decision for them. Doctors don't have the right or privilege to impose their will, generally speaking, and the Conscience Rule was thus unfathomable to me; that affords doctors an enormous amount of power and sets a precedent for all manner of co-opted medical decisions.*

HIPAA (the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act, for those who don't have the pleasure of dealing with it daily) gets a face lift, courtesy of the stimulus bill. Ultimately, the rules surrounding protection of health care information will be tightened up, and everything will be made electronic. This is great for protection of patients and efficiency, but it's going to be a short term pain. Pretty appropriate for the stimulus bill, which, if all things go as El Presidente says, will have much the same crunch effect.

*Obviously, there are many exceptions - ER medicine springs to mind - but I'm speaking of planned procedures here.

No comments: