Nursing Association Applauds Changes
President Obama has repealed conservative medical regulations that were enacted by his predecessor, and the American Nurses Association (ANA) applauds the President's decision. First, Obama decided to lift restrictions on federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research. The ANA supports the ethical use of stem cells for research and therapeutic purposes that impact the public's health, provided it is conducted within strict scientific and ethical guidelines.
While there are differing views on stem cell research, including amongst nurses, the association as a whole believes the benefits to be realized for the many individuals who suffer from diseases and disabilities outweigh this dissent.
Repeal Will Save Millions of Dollars
Secondly, the ANA commends President Obama's repeal of the "Provider Conscience" regulation issued in the last days of the Bush Administration. Bush's rule allowed healthcare workers and providers to withhold treatment, counseling, or healthcare information based on religious or moral beliefs without regard for the needs of the patient.
The problem with the rule was that it impacted access to care. Nurses generally agree that they are obligated to provide patients and families with all relevant information so that patients may make informed decisions about their care, and that they should support patients regardless of the decisions that they may make. ANA's Code of Ethics for Nurses allows nurses to refuse to engage in practices which they find morally objectionable, but the nurse is also "obliged to provide for the patient's safety, to avoid patient abandonment, and to withdraw only when assured that alternative sources of nursing care are available to the patient." When patients are already overwhelmed with medical and personal decisions, they do not need the additional burden of judgment, rejection, or neglect by nurses.
The "Provider Conscience" regulation is pointless because the right of healthcare providers to elect not to participate in certain procedures is protected by existing federal law, and the estimated $44.5 million spent yearly on implementing Bush's regulation would be better spent on provision of patient care services.