HHS Secretary Leavitt’s explanation of his actions is, quitefrankly, mindboggling. “Freedom ofexpression and action should not be surrendered upon the issuance of a healthcare degree,” he notes. The real issuehas nothing to do with gaining a credential; it has everything to do withholding yourself out as a licensed health care provider to the public. It is the public, as in the individualpatient, whose needs come first.
Moreover,certainly with regard to public employment, the Supreme Court has even upheldthe right for the government to bar “speech” with which it disagrees. I’m sure you remember, and probablyapplauded, a 1991 decision in he case of Rustv. Sullivan. In it, the Supreme Court upheld HHS regulations that barredrecipients of federal funds from even discussing the option of terminating apregnancy or referring women to doctors who would perform abortions. The lawalready barred the use of federal funds to perform them directly. Would youhave defended a doctor’s right to say “my faith impels me to tell you about anoption which I believe is morally acceptable: abortion”? Somehow, I doubt it.
Finally,Leavitt’s comments about how people can go to someone who does not “assert aconflict of conscience” reminds me of another analogy. Novelist Anatole
People cancomment on these proposed regulations for a few more weeks. I’d suggest they do so if they want toprotect not just the right to choose, but sound medical practice as well.