EEOC Files Comments Strongly Opposing HHS’s Proposed “Provider Conscience Regulations”

by Patricia Schaeffer, Vice President-Regulatory Affairs

EEOC Commissioners Stuart Ishimaru and Christine Griffin submitted comments to the Department of Health and Human Services in response to its August 25, 2008 notice of proposed rulemaking published in the Federal Register. The proposed DHS rule, “Ensuring that Department of Health and Human Services Funds Do Not Support Coercive or Discriminatory Policies or Practices in Violation of Federal Law,” would, in part, prohibit discrimination against health care workers refusing to participate in abortion-related services due to religious objections. Commissioners Ishimaru and Griffin said the proposed rule is unnecessary to protect the religious freedom and freedom of conscience of healthcare workers because Title VII already serves that purpose. They said the proposed rule would “throw this entire body of law into question, resulting in needless confusion and litigation in an attempt to redefine religious freedom rights for employees in the healthcare sector.”

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