EEOC Protests Bush Administration Regulation

A last-minute Bush Administration “provider conscience” regulation is facing serious objections, including from the government agency responsible for enforcing job discrimination laws. Three top officials from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) are protesting the proposed regulation because they say it would overturn 40 years of civil rights law prohibiting employee discrimination based on religion.

Longstanding federal employment anti-discrimination laws already strike a careful balance that requires employers to balance respect for their employees’ religious beliefs with meeting their patients’ health care needs. This proposed regulation would broaden the scope of existing federal refusal laws beyond Congressional intent and put ideology before sound health care practices.

The EEOC’s protest is also echoed by many in the medical community, including the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, which have urged the Bush administration to withdraw the proposed regulation. According to the New York Times, aides to the Obama Administration have said that the President-elect will try to rescind the regulation once he takes office, a process that could take from three to six months.

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