Obama’s visits bring to light Orange County’s blue streak

Republicans always have dominated the Orange County (Calif.) congressional delegation. Thankfully, this reality hasn’t prevented Barack Obama from visiting OC several times.

One of his earliest stops was in June 2007, when candidate Obama attended a breakfast fundraiser in Newport Beach.

Thirteen months later he was back. This time he campaigned at the famed Balboa Bay Club (once a favorite watering hole of Richard Nixon and his Lincoln Club cronies). That event raised more than $1.2 million — ten times what the first one pulled in.

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Last week, the new commander in chief made his first visit to OC as president. Given that the county is at the heart of the nation’s housing meltdown, it made perfect sense for him to come here.

I believe there is another reason Orange County remains on President Obama’s radar. Newsweek recently ran a feature on conservatism and the county, which noted: “In November, the place that fancies itself ‘the reddest county in America’ gave the Democratic nominee for president nearly 48 percent of the vote.”

This is rather shocking considering that four years earlier, then-President Bush’s margin of victory over Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) was by more votes than in any other county in the nation.

Clearly, things have changed in OC — and not to the GOP’s liking.

So while the conventional wisdom is that the traditions of Ronald Reagan and John Wayne still dominate political life in OC, it just isn’t so. This is especially true since there are nearly 520,000 registered Democrats here — second only to Los Angeles County in the entire state.

Mr. President, I am glad you visited Orange County last week. I hope you will return often.

Laguna Beach, Calif.

Wrong to rescind ‘conscience rule’

From Joxel Garcia, U.S. assistant secretary for health (2008-2009) and Jacqueline Halbig, director, Freedom2Care.org.

Dr. Leslie Chorun was forced to resign from her residency program because she refused to refer women for abortions, believing it was below the standard of care for physicians. Dr. Sandy Christiansen was reamed out in front of her team of residents and medical students for not wanting to be involved in her patient’s late-term abortion because of her Christian beliefs.

Reports of discrimination stories like these by healthcare providers and medical and nursing students spurred the Bush administration to enact Health and Human Services regulation now referred to as the “conscience rule.” Having been implemented in December 2008, this rule has not had the opportunity to go into full effect and yet the Obama administration has already announced its intention to rescind it.

The intent of this rule is not only to educate and raise awareness about the existing laws that protect the conscience rights, but also to give doctors and medical students a recourse for discrimination complaints.

Discrimination stories are abundant, and good doctors, nurses and medical students are being forced to give up their practices because of their moral convictions.

In a time when baby boomer healthcare providers are retiring at record numbers and a diminishing number of applicants are going to medical schools, we continue to nurture a hostile environment which penalizes healthcare providers who exercise their right of conscience. The result will be a severe reduction in doctors and nurses in places where they are most needed, leaving patients without necessary medical care.

If President Obama rescinds the conscience rule, it’s very possible that not only doctors will stop practicing if forced to perform abortions against their will, but faith-based hospitals will also be forced to close their doors. If this occurs, local economies will take a severe hit in loss of jobs and healthcare expenses will skyrocket.

Not exactly healthcare access for everyone, as Obama has promised.

Upon learning that Obama planned to rescind the conscience clause, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), an OB/GYN doctor himself, said that he would rather face jail time than perform an abortion or any other act that, as a doctor, he morally opposes.

Healthcare quality exists when there is sound science and open communication between patients and doctors. Should the conscience clause be rescinded, the government enters into the sacred space of communication between patients and doctors, effectively telling doctors what they can or cannot say. Since when in America have we moved into a socialistic system of government?

Doctors should not be required to check their conscience at the door when they provide care to their patients or go through training. It’s a matter of freedom and constitutional rights. It’s the essence of being an American.

Washington