hhsA Bush administration has finalized a rule that gives health workers more room to refuse to participate in care, including abortions, they find morally objectionable. But it’s not clear how long the rule will last once Barack Obama takes office.

The rule (online here) has the support of anti-abortion advocates but has raised the ire of medical groups and other organizations that favor abortion rights. It is set to take effect the day before President Bush vacates the White House.

“This rule protects the right of medical providers to care for their patients in accord with their conscience,” Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said in a press release. It says hospitals, pharmacies and other entities that be charged with discrimination and lose federal funds if they pressure employees to take part in treatments to which they object on religious or moral grounds. (See our prior posts on the debate around the rule here, here and here.)

Still, as the Los Angeles Times notes, Obama in August criticized the then-proposed rule and said he was “committed to ensuring that the health and reproductive rights of women are protected.” A spokesman for Obama told the Times that the president-elect “will review all 11th-hour regulations and will address them once he is president.”

Revising the rule could take months, though. Another option is a congressional resolution rejecting the Bush administration’s late rules. Democratic Reps. Louise Slaughter of New York and Diana DeGette of Colorado said Thursday that they would lead such an effort, according to LAT.

Posted by Sarah Rubenstein  http://blogs.wsj.com/health/2008/12/19/bush-administration-adds-conscience-rule-on-abortion/