Most Say Health Workers Shouldn't Refuse Care on Moral Grounds: Poll

From Drugs.com - February 8, 2018

Most Say Health Workers Should not Refuse Care on Moral Grounds: Poll

THURSDAY, Feb. 8, 2018 -- Most Americans are not on board with President Donald Trump's recent decision to further protect health care workers who refuse to treat patients on religious or moral grounds, the latest HealthDay/Harris Poll shows.

More than eight of 10 surveyed do not believe doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health care providers should be allowed to use their conscience or beliefs to refuse care.

Majorities agreed that health providers should not be able to refuse to treat a patient based on religious objections to their sexual orientation (69 percent) or to refuse to perform surgical procedures because they have a religious objection to them (59 percent).

"In reply to all of the questions, regardless of which services were being provided, or which patients were being treated, only relatively small minorities of the public believe that providers should be allowed to refuse to provide care," said Deana Percassi, managing director, public relations research practice for The Harris Poll.

The online poll included more than 2,000 U.S. adults and was conducted in late January.

The Trump administration announced last month that medical professionals who feel their rights have been violated can now file a complaint with a new conscience and religious freedom division of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Conservative groups applauded the move.

"For more than 40 years, federal law has protected the conscience rights of all Americans in the context of health care," the Heritage Foundation said in a statement. "These protections have allowed for a diversity of values in health care and ensured that individuals can work and live according to their moral and religious beliefs."

However, the new poll found only a minority of both Republicans (22 percent) and Democrats (8 percent) support the notion that health care providers should be allowed to refuse services that conflict with their conscience or beliefs.

"What we are seeing here is that the American public understands the danger of allowing individual bias to impact the ability of health providers to do their job," said Frederick Isasi, executive director of Families USA, a health care consumer advocacy group.

The partisan divide grew more pronounced when the survey questions became more specific:

Dr. Robert Truog, director of the Center for Bioethics at Harvard Medical School, said that "rules like these are often focused more on scoring political points than on solving actual real-world problems."


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