Before President George W. Bush went out of office, he left a parting gift to the Religious Right, which Americans United for Separation of Church and State hopes is about to be returned to sender.

That gift was a Department of Health and Human Services regulation that provides an absolute and unqualified right of medical workers to refuse to perform any service or activity if it is contrary to his or her religious convictions.
For example, under the regulation, an HHS-funded employee could refuse on religious grounds to provide or fill psychiatric, HIV, birth control, methadone, sleeping-aid or other prescriptions or refuse to honor a patient’s end-of-life decree that rejects life-prolonging treatment. Such employees could also refuse to provide fertility treatments for lesbian patients.

President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaKamala Harris makes history — as a Westerner Poll: 15 percent of Democratic voters want to eliminate the filibuster Donald Trump has done more for African Americans than we think MORE has proposed rescinding this Bush regulation, and in a letter to Acting HHS Secretary Charles E. Johnson, Americans United urged Obama to see this rescission through.  We do not believe the regulation is necessary since the nation’s federal civil rights laws already protect employees from religious discrimination.

If the regulation is enforced, it would have a chilling effect on health-care facilities, reducing rather than expanding health-care services for patients. It is clear that this regulation is just another strategy to push a very narrow religious viewpoint on the entire country, and we hope Obama puts a stop to it.