In a meeting with eight religion writers at the White House today, President Obama said he favors strong federal protections for health care workers who object to performing some medical procedures on moral grounds, although he admitted that he would roll back President Bush's expansion of such protections.
According to the Washington Post, President Obama "said he is a 'believer in conscience clauses' and that a new policy would 'certainly not be weaker' than what existed before Bush expanded it late in his administration." For the full story, click HERE.
Conscience protections for health care workers have existed in the law for decades. The problem was they were not publicized (so workers didn't even know they had the right to refuse) and they were not enforced. At the end of his administration, President Bush issued regulations, through the Department of Health and Human Services, that required publicizing these rights, and enforcing the laws. So what President Obama is promising is a return to the days when workers did not know they had these rights and when no one was required to enforce them. Not sure how that's "robust."
In other news at the same meeting...CNS, which had a representative at the round table meeting, is reporting that the president said he "continues to be profoundly influenced by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago, whom he came to know when he was a community organizer in a project partially funded by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development." For the full CNS story, click HERE.
In addition to CNS, other publications represented at the White House meeting were the National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter, America magazine, Catholic Digest, Commonweal magazine, Vatican Radio, and one secular reporter from The Washington Post also participated.
President Obama will have his first meeting with Pope Benedict XVI on July 10.