Last-minute rules would affect health care

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

ProPublica, which is tracking last-minute rulemaking by the Bush Administration, reports on one rule that would make it more difficult for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to regulate toxins.

Fire and emergency response personnel practice techniques for hazardous materials containment and removal.

Fire and emergency response personnel practice techniques for hazardous materials containment and removal. Photo: Jim Gathany/CDC

ProPublica, which also links to coverage in The Washington Post and The New York Times, says “OSHA has issued just one significant health standard” in the past eight years – and that it did that under court order.

Another rule the administration is pushing forward is would require federally funded health care facilities to allow employees to refuse to provide services at odds with their moral or religious beliefs, such as abortion.

David G. Savage of the Los Angeles Times reports that “For more than 30 years, federal law has dictated that doctors and nurses may refuse to perform abortions. The new rule would go further by making clear that healthcare workers also may refuse to provide information or advice to patients who might want an abortion.”

Savage writes that the rule, as written, could extend to other procedures, including prescribing birth control or providing artificial inseminination. A lawyer for the National Women’s Law Center said the law also could affect decisions about end-of-life care.

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