What We Can’t Not Know

What We Can't Not Know: A Guide

By Project advisor Jay Budziszewski

Revised and Expanded Edition

In this new revised edition of his groundbreaking work, Professor J. Budziszewski questions the modern assumption that moral truths are unknowable. With clear and logical arguments he rehabilitates the natural law tradition and restores confidence in a moral code based upon human nature.  What We Can’t Not Know explains the rational foundation of what we all really know to be right and wrong and shows how that foundation has been kicked out from under western society. Having gone through stages of atheism and nihilism in his own search for truth, Budziszewski understands the philosophical and personal roots of moral relativism. With wisdom born of both experience and rigorous intellectual inquiry, he offers a firm foothold to those who are attempting either to understand or to defend the reasonableness of traditional morality.

AULA Calls for strong conscience clause protection for medical professionals

“No longer should the civil rights of medical professionals be held hostage to political interests,” said Dr. Charmaine Yoest.

NEWS RELEASE

Americans United for Life

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Americans United for Life president and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest noted that the Obama Administration had rescinded almost all of the regulation protecting conscience rights for medical professionals – except the provision to file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services.

“AUL predicted that the rights of conscience of medical professionals could be violated without stronger protections,” said Dr. Yoest. “This must come to an end. No longer should the civil rights of medical professionals be held hostage to political interests.” She continued: “Today the Obama Administration acknowledged that it is a civil right not to participate in an abortion, but in the same breath weakened federal regulations designed to protect that right. This underscores the necessity for Congressional action; health care providers must have an effective means to enforce their rights written in the law. The protection of the basic civil right to provide care without participating in life-destructive activities must not be dependent on the whims of an Administration that has made expanding abortion central to its mission.”

The Obama Administration received more than 300,000 comments when it announced in 2009 that it intended to rescind regulations enacted under the Bush Administration to uphold federal conscience protection laws. Nearly two-thirds of those comments expressed opposition to rescinding the conscience-protecting regulations.

For more information or interviews, contact Kristi Hamrick press@aul.org

USCCB Finds Weakening of Health Care Conscience Rule a ‘Disappointment’

Affirms Some Positive Elements

USCCB News Release 11-036
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 18, 2011

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

WASHINGTON (February 18, 2011)—The Obama administration’s final rule rescinding important elements of a federal regulation protecting the conscience rights of health care providers is a disappointment, but there are also reasons for hope, said Deirdre McQuade of the Pro-Life Secretariat of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

“The Administration’s action today is cause for disappointment, but also offers reasons for hope regarding an emerging consensus in Washington on the need for clear conscience protections for health care providers,” said McQuade.

“It is very disappointing that the Administration has chosen to eliminate much of the existing regulation on conscience issued in December 2008. Among other things, the final rule issued today eliminates important clarifications that would have helped in interpreting and enforcing longstanding federal statutes protecting the conscience rights of health care providers. It also eliminates a regulatory requirement that recipients of federal funds certify compliance with those statutes.

“However, it is welcome news that the Administration says it will take initiative to increase awareness of the conscience statutes, work to ensure compliance with them, and require that government grants make clear that compliance is required. We look forward to working with the Administration and Congress to ensure that these endeavors are carried out, so providers receive the full conscience protection they are due.

“We also hope that the Administration will place its full support behind efforts in Congress to clarify conscience protections and make them more secure, by endorsing such initiatives as the Protect Life Act (H.R. 358), the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 3), and the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 361).”

  • Past USCCB letters supporting the Bush administration regulation, and opposing efforts to rescind it.

CMA Physicians, former HHS Asst. Secretary decry Obama administration’s regulatory action on conscience and discrimination.

NEWS RELEASE

Christian Medical Association

Washington, DC, February 18, 2011 — The 16,000-member Christian Medical Association (CMA, www.cmda.org) today protested the decision of the Obama administration to weaken the only federal regulation protecting the exercise of conscience in health care.

Dr. J. Scott Ries, a board-certified family physician and CMA’s vice president for Campus & Community Ministries, said, “The administration has made changes in a vital civil rights regulation without evidence or justification. The administration presented no evidence of any problems in healthcare access, prescriptions or procedures that have occurred in the two years since the original regulation’s enactment that would justify any change in this protective regulation.

“The administration, for example, contends that a rule change is necessary to protect access to contraception, but absolutely no evidence is presented to justify any such concern. In the process, the administration blatantly ignores the scientific evidence that certain controversial prescriptions that abortion advocates promote as contraception are actually potential abortifacients, ending the life of a living, developing human embryo. This is a critical concern for pro-life patients, healthcare professionals and institutions.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services indicated in 2008 in its final rule, “We have found no evidence that these regulations will create new barriers in accessing contraception unless those contraceptives are currently delivered over the religious or moral objections of the provider in such programs or research activities.”

Dr. Ries added, “The Obama administration’s regulatory action today diminishes the civil rights that protect conscientious physicians and other healthcare professionals against discrimination. Any weakening of protections against discrimination against life-affirming healthcare professionals ultimately threatens to severely worsen patient access to health care.

“Losing conscientious healthcare professionals and faith-based institutions to discrimination and job loss especially imperils the poor and patients in medically underserved areas. We are already facing critical shortages of primary care physicians, and the Obama administration’s decision now threatens to make the situation far worse for patients across the country who depend on faith-based health care.”

National survey results show that over nine of ten faith-based physicians, who are among the most likely to be serving the poor and those in medically underserved areas, indicate they would rather leave the profession if denied the ability to practice medicine according to conscientiously held ethical standards. Survey results also indicate that 20% of faith-based medical students say they are “not pursuing a career in Obstetrics or Gynecology” because of perceived discrimination and coercion in that field.

Dr. Ries added, “Stories told to me by medical students across the country indicate that the threat of being forced to participate in abortion procedures and violate their moral integrity is enough to steer them in the opposite direction. That means even fewer physicians for women in the future in this specialty that is already facing critical shortages.

Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health Dr. Joxel Garcia noted, “Especially in physician shortage states such as Texas, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Utah, Nevada, Idaho and Delaware, losing just one physician can erase healthcare access for thousands of patients.

“Pushing conscientious physicians out of medicine is a significant step toward a healthcare system controlled by the state that moves away from the ethical roots of medicine. In the new governmental utilitarian model, the ‘common good’ defined by the state supersedes any moral, religious or ethical principle such as embodied in the Hippocratic Oath, which has protected patients for millennia.”

As the second-in-command under Sec. Mike Leavitt at the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS), Dr. Garcia oversaw the development and implementation of the conscience regulation and continues to work closely with the CMA and others to protect conscience rights. He currently serves as President and Dean at the Ponce School of Medicine & Health Sciences, where CMA provides a medical student ministry, as it does on over 90 percent of the nation’s medical and dental school campuses.

Dr. Ries’ clinical career has included faculty appointments at Indiana University School of Medicine and Butler University; he has also served as medical consultant to NBC, CBS, FOX and ABC network affiliates.