Obama to Rescind Bush Abortion Rule

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The Obama administration is expected to reverse a federal ruling that protects doctors who refuse to perform abortions or who provide abortion counseling.

The Bush administration had enacted the conscience rule to protect health care providers from discrimination.

CBN News contacted the White House, which issued this response:

"President Obama has a very clear record of supporting carefully crafted conscience clause legislation," said Reid Cherlin, White House Assistant Press Secretary. "He believes this issue requires a careful balance between the rights of providers and the health of women and their families, a balance that the last-minute Bush rule appears to upset."

A Health and Human Services official said the administration will publish notice of its intentions early next week. The Administration will open a 30-day comment period for advocates, medical groups and the public.

White House officials say they will review public comments before a final decision is made. Options range from simply repealing the regulation to writing a new one with a narrower scope.

Republican reaction to the announcment was swift. House Minority Leader John Boehner said the move would lead to more abortions being performed in the country.

"It is an action that will hurt faith-based health providers and hospitals throughout our nation who are committed to caring for Americans at this critical time," Boehner said in a released statement. "It will also inevitably result in more abortions being performed nationwide."

Bush's Rule

Former Presdident Bush's administration instigated the conscience rule in the waning days of his administration. The rule, however, was challenged in federal court by several states and medical organizations.

The rule requires institutions that receive federal funding to certify their compliance with laws protecting conscience rights. It was intended to block the flow of federal funds to hospitals and other institutions that ignore the rights of religious and moral objectors.

As a candidate, President Obama criticized the regulation and promised that if elected, the rule would be reviewed.

Pro-life groups backed the Bush rule, saying it simpilified government policies and raised awareness about the rights of medical providers to follow their consciences.

However, abortion rights advocates said it could reduce access to other services - allowing a drug store clerk to refuse to sell birth control pills, for example.

Since taking office, Obama has already repealed the Mexico City Policy that prevented taxpayer dollars from being used to fund overseas abortions.

Rep. Boehner says the Administration has also blocked pro-life amendments from being included in the spending bill being considered in the House.

Sources:  CBN News, The Associated Press

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