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On Monday, May 10, LifeNews.com and other news services reported that the Trump Rule protecting conscience rights of medical providers had been reversed. We added that to our Timeline.

In brief, federal conscience laws were defined favorably under President Bush, rescinded by President Obama, largely reinstated to the Bush standards by President Trump (with some definitions that pro-lifers liked), and now, once again, are being reversed by the Biden administration.

As reported in LifeNews, “When Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, it prohibited discrimination on the basis of ‘sex.’ Several years later, the Obama administration redefined ‘sex’ to mean … termination of pregnancy.” The Trump Rule rescinded that definition. The new Biden Rule reverses Trump’s definition.

The AAPLOG seminar earlier this year predicted that could occur. This blog reported that AAPLOG warned that the Equality Act would reconfirm the Obama definition of “discrimination on the basis of sex” as 1. gender identity, 2. sex stereotyping, and 3. termination of pregnancy. However, we now see that the Office of Civil Rights is working to stymie conscience rights by a mere Rule change.

These concepts are not thoroughly explained in this article, but for any reader who desires to better understand what is happening in the progression of the dilemma, some good references are below in the footnotes.

How will this affect Ky’s medical providers?

In brief, follow the money. AAPLOG’s Dr. Donna Harrison noted that the Equality Act would apply to every entity that receives federal funding. If a doctor accepts a Medicaid patient but refuses to perform an objectionable procedure such as abortion, the patient can sue, but under the Trump Rule, the doctor had legal recourse.

Nevertheless, Ky’s ‘ace in the hole’ is our Time Tunnel 1974 Healthcare Worker Conscience Law that forbids publicly owned health care facilities to perform abortions, and forbids privately owned facilities or providers (doctors, nurses, others) to be required to, or held liable for refusal to, perform abortions.

The 1974 law defines numerous aspects of ‘unlawful discriminatory practice’. In 2020 and 2021 Sen. Stephen Meredith (R-Breckinridge, Edmonson, Grayson, Hart, LaRue, Meade) fought to pass a Medical Conscience bill that expanded that legislation to include procedures beyond abortion, healthcare payers among those protected, and would permit the injured party to sue in court.

The 1974 Law states that public funds cannot be denied to any medical providers who refuse to participate in abortion. Forty-seven years ago no one foresaw the need to mention gender assignment surgery as a category of medical conscience objections. As KyRTL did this year and last year, we will again support Sen. Meredith’s bill in 2022.

His bill was challenged and slowed down both years by Sen. Morgan McGarvey (D-Jefferson-Part) through amendments requesting to expand those covered to include members of the public service professions.

Sen. McGarvey requested these and other changes:
- Before the words ‘any medical practitioner’ insert ‘any Legislative Research Commission employee, leadership staff, security personnel, doorkeeper, state park employee, or Ky state trooper providing assistance in the Ky State Capitol, Capitol Annex, or Annex grounds during any and all legislative sessions or interim committee meetings of the Ky General Assembly.’

In other words, a doorkeeper could refuse to listen to a meeting or discussion of any topic he conscientiously objected to, equating his dilemma with a doctor's whose conscience tells him not to perform an abortion.

Sen. Westerfield addressed this confusion by suggesting an amendment to confine the legislation to particular healthcare services, among other issues. But any bill must be promoted in a timely fashion to make it across the finish line under the constraints of the very brief Regular Session of the Ky Legislature.

Meanwhile, we may ask: How will the new Biden Rule be applied in Ky? Can it override our law? Without a doubt, in the current national climate, it's likely that our pro-life state must aggressively insist on what we have so far accomplished.

To that end, please assist KyRTL and our pro-life partners as we work toward passage of the Constitutional Amendment Yes for Life, HB 91 bill!

footnotes
https://www.cnsnews.com/index.php/article/washington/michael-w-chapman/biden-reverses-trump-obamacare-rule-expands-sex-include-gender
https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/hblog20190503.960127/full/
https://www.foxnews.com/politics/judge-overturns-trump-backed-conscience-rule-to-protect-religious-and-moral-freedoms-of-health-care-workers
https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2020/01/23/trump-admin-actions-to-protect-life-and-conscience-factsheet-released-01-23-20.html
https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2020/10/22/12-groundbreaking-pro-life-accomplishments-president-donald-trump/
https://s3.amazonaws.com/becketnewsite/LSP-SCOTUS-Decision.pdf


KRLA Forum

Are you a nurse or doctor who is increasingly concerned over the aggressive push to counsel or participate in unconscionable procedures or therapies?

Are you a pro-life citizen who believes healthcare practitioners should have conscience rights?

Sen. Stephen Meredith’s SB Bill 83 that we encourage you to support (See Legislative Alert), to assure conscience rights for medical care providers, was flagged for an amendment by Sen. Morgan McGarvey (D). Why?

He wants to broaden the class of people entitled to object on the basis of religious, moral, ethical, or philosophical beliefs or principles to include LRC staff, leadership staff, security personnel, doorkeepers, state park employees, and state troopers.

However, Sen. Whitney Westerfield has filed a friendly amendment to confine the language in the bill: The exercise of this right shall be limited to conscience-based objections to particular healthcare services.

Sen. McGarvey tried the same tactic last year until the bill finally became “a Christmas Tree” in the lingo of legislators, and died.

AAPLOG explains the stakes for pro-life ObGyns

The American Association of ObGyns held a seminar on Feb. 27 to update members on the current environment for practitioners, and we attended.

Dr. Donna Harrison, an ObGyn and the executive director of AAPLOG, explained that the Equality Act which recently passed the House of Representatives, introduces new demands. If it passes the Senate, it will be signed into law. This will mean that Ky’s conscience rights legislation and other pro-life laws could face new and different court challenges.

The Equality Act uses the exact same terminology as the Final Rule of the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) regarding Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities. The OCR in the Obama Administration determined what “discrimination on the basis of sex” means. It ruled that impermissible discrimination includes 1. gender identity, 2. sex stereotyping, and 3. termination of pregnancy.

So, under the Equality Act, refusal to terminate a pregnancy will be considered sex discrimination, a crime. An accusation by a patient will threaten loss of board certification and the job of an offending practitioner.

Every entity that receives federal funding MUST COMPLY, even the doctor who takes a medicaid patient. If a doctor or hospital or pharmacy does not comply, there is a private right of action: The patient who was turned away has the right to sue the entity or person.

“The stakes are very, very high for us as conscientious physicians,” stated Dr. Harrison. She presented information on the Hippocratic Oath, and explained that in a state-controlled utilitarian system:

  • Patients whose lives do not increase the net happiness of the society (handicapped, unwanted) are subject to elimination.
  • The good physician is one who acts as an agent of the state to implement state-defined health goals. This is a vending-machine model where the provider is viewed as a public utility.
  • A good human is one who is free from all social constraints and feels no obligation to family, church or society, but only to the state.

Many other concerning facts were shared by AAPLOG board chair Dr. Christina Francis and others, and AAPLOG intends to stage four more conferences this year. We believe these will be well worth attending.

AAPLOG was begun in 1973 as a group within ACOG, the American College of ObGyns, as that college became radical abortion advocates. ACOG today “calls for advocacy to oppose and overturn restrictions, improve access and mainstream abortion as an integral component of women’s health care.” ACOG defines conscience as “personal sentiment.”

AAPLOG has presented the pro-life stand in all Supreme Court abortion cases.

hippocrates-painting.jpg

In the classic painting by Anne-Louis Girodet, Hippocrates is pushing away the gold and the scepter offered to him by Artaxerxes, insisting instead upon the practice of medicine as defined in the Oath. Its essential tenets are:

  1. To teach medicine only to those who are bound by this Oath
  2. To act only for the benefit of the patient
  3. To never assist in suicide or practice euthanasia, nor suggest it
  4. To never perform an abortion
  5. To refer to physicians of sufficient expertise
  6. To never have sex with patients
  7. To maintain patient confidentiality

An implicit part of the Oath is the invocation of the transcendent blessing or curse, so that patients can assume their doctor will not harm them.

Today, many health care professionals are claiming the right to abandon their patients, particularly those who must make reproductive choices. A practitioner, Dr. Harrison noted, must decide: “Am I going to stand, or am I an agent of the state?”

The AAPLOG conference explained certain helpful legal defenses, its resources and publications, and described its goals and assistance to its 7,000 members. It is non-sectarian and offers evidence-based support for discussions with patients and colleagues. Why not share this article with your ObGyn?

Those who attended came away with a sense of urgency for societal norms that seem to be shifting from the Right of Conscience on which America was founded.


KRLA Forum

Wednesday, March 4, marked the deadline for new bills to be filed in the 2020 Kentucky Legislative Session. At this writing, many pro-life bills including SB90, the Conscience bill, have been mired in amendment quicksand.

Though HB67, the Constitutional Amendment bill, had been posted for passage, it was bogged down by silly amendments. (See related post).

HB391, to require auditing of abortion statistics reports filed (or not filed!) by abortion clinics, was speared by ridiculous and very raunchy amendments filed by Rep. Mary Lou Marzian. (On the positive side, the audit rule only pertains to EMW, since, so far, the C-J reports that Planned Parenthood is not yet performing abortions in Louisville.)

To view the crabby committee hearing on HB391, go here and start the video at about 52 minutes.

In Marzian’s rage attacks, two amendments call for the Office of the Auditor of Public Accounts to audit privately or publicly held corporations including Wal-mart, etc. Five amendments add language such as “Any man who engages in masturbation or ejaculation without the intent of fertilization shall be guilty of a Class D felony.” View these here.

SB90 had been altered by its sponsor Sen. Meredith— See related post. New amendments by Senators Julie Adams and Morgan McGarvey call for further alterations.

The bill as introduced defines “healthcare service” as “medical care provided to any patient at any time over the entire course of treatment” and includes “initial examination; testing; diagnosis; referral; dispensing or administering any drug, medication, or device; psychological therapy or counseling; research; prognosis; therapy; any other care or necessary services performed or provided by any medical practitioner, including but not limited to allied health professionals, paraprofessionals, or employees of healthcare institutions”. Numerous other terms are defined. The bill’s objective is to ensure rights of conscience for healthcare providers, to prevent discrimination against them, and to permit them to seek justice in court if their conscience rights are violated. This bill in part extends the rules/law of current statute 311.800.

Sen. Adams (R-Louisville) wants to delete “psychological therapy or counseling” and the related providers, “psychology and counseling faculty and students,” and “counselors, social workers.”

Sen. McGarvey (D-Louisville) wants the proposed law to extend to some public servants and legislative activity. His Amendment 3 is in part legal protection for whistleblowers but applies conscience rights for some public servants who wish to decline participation in legislative activity for “conscience” reasons. His Amendment 4 retitles SB90 to “AN ACT protecting the exercise of ethics and diversity among members of medical and public service professions.” His Amendment 5 adds protection for some state employees from discrimination and adds their right to seek relief in court. Read more.

HB370, to require dignified treatment of fetal remains, advanced to the House Rules Committee for a second reading.

HB451, like HB391, enforces existing legislation. It grants the Attorney General more latitude in investigating and punishing violations of state laws for abortion clinic licensure. It has advanced to the Rules Committee.

Let’s keep praying for an end to abortion. Be sure to call the Legislative Message Line, 1-800-372-7181, to encourage passage of pro-life bills.


KRLA Forum

Two pro-life bills have passed out of their committee hearings to proceed on their journey to passage.

Testimonies for and against HB67, to pass a constitutional amendment stating that Kentucky does not protect a right to abortion or its funding, were heard by the Elections, Const. Amendments & Intergovernmental Affairs Committee. See related post. Watch some of the testimonies on the KET legislative coverage, starting at 15:50.

Testimonies for SB90, a bill to protect conscience rights of medical providers, were heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Its primary sponsor Sen. Stephen Meredith stated, “No medical professional should be forced to violate the oath to do no harm.” The KET coverage features a nurse’s testimony that this protection is needed, and statements from legislators who oppose the bill because “It is not in the best interest of the patient.”

The screenshot from the KET video shows KRLA’s Margie Montgomery seated just behind the ACLU spokesperson during the HB67 hearing. Keep informed!

hb67_ket.jpg


UPDATE: This is funny?

A number of floor amendments were filed by Rep. Joni Jenkins, a Democrat from Jefferson Co. on Friday, Feb. 28, to derail HB67. She is Minority Floor Leader. Her Floor Amendment 2 reads: “Amend the title to read as follows: "AN ACT proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Kentucky relating to vasectomies.” So, though HB 67 was posted for passage in the Regular Orders of the Day for Feb. 28, the bill will be in the House again on Monday, March 2, and at this writing has not yet passed the House.

See here to read all five of Joni’s amendments.

On Sen. Meredith’s bill, technical corrections and the removal of two sections that include healthcare payers in the proposed legislation were made on Feb. 24. Read more.


KRLA Forum

The American Nurses Association (ANA) currently holds a position IN OPPOSITION TO Assisted Suicide. A draft position statement CHANGES that. The ANA is asking for public comment from nurses. If the proposed change is adopted, nurses would be required to assist patients in ending their lives or to write a referral to someone who would. There would be NO OPT-OUT privilege. For more information, see here.

The web page where you can comment is here.

The Draft Proposal is here.



Posts on this page

5/21/2021 6:47:06 PM
New item on the KyRTL Timeline confronts the Time Tunnel
3/2/2021 12:00:04 PM
Attention healthcare practitioners: Are you a utility?
3/7/2020 4:34:33 PM
News about pro-life bills under consideration by Kentucky’s General Assembly
2/21/2020 8:56:46 PM
SB90 and HB67 on the move to passage!
4/4/2019 3:33:18 PM
Proposed change to ANA position on assisted suicide would require nurses to assist or refer with no opt-out

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