Ethical Considerations

Disturbing amendments to the Baucus Health Bill


Under current law, religious people who object to medical care may have some “spiritual care” covered by Medicare and Medicaid, including reimbursement for payments that Christian Scientists make to members of the Church who pray for them when they are ill. Numerous children have died while receiving this “spiritual care,” when modern science could easily have saved their lives. The Hatch-Kerry Amendment [Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and John Kerry (D-Mass.)] would make a bad situation even worse. It would expand such practices and require all private and public health plans to cover “spiritual care,” whether or not the individual has religious objections to medical care.

Let me get this straight – current health care plans can choose NOT to cover mental health services but they’re paying for prayer?

We also oppose an amendment by Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming), which would allow doctors to deny patients any care or information that violates the doctor’s religious beliefs. This violation of medical ethics is labeled with the Orwellian term “Conscience Clause.” This amendment cruelly places the religious beliefs of practitioners such as pharmacists above the medical needs of patients.

The Hippocratic Oath clearly says “Do No Harm” not “Dictate to Thy Patient His or Her Care According to Your Religious Beliefs”

It threatens access to contraception, end-of-life care, HIV care, and any other care to which a health provider objects. It would also allow health care providers to withhold information from patients about their health care status and their treatment options, in violation of informed consent and ethical standards.

And why am I not surprised by the following:

Lastly, we object to an amendment by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), requesting that funding for Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage programs be restored. Congress has already wasted $1.5 billion on such programs since 1996, despite the fact that there is no evidence that abstinence-only programs have been effective in stopping or even delaying teen sex. Numerous studies, including a 10-year government-funded evaluation of the Title V abstinence-only program, found that these programs do not delay sexual initiation and have no beneficial impact on young people’s sexual behavior.

Yes, let’s continue to waste tax money on programs that DO NOT WORK just to curry favor with the segment of our population that would rather keep its young people ignorant. Brilliant.

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