Reason on the Rights of Patients

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In Theocratic Health Care, Reason‘s Ronald Bailey pens a quite amazing piece–for a libertarian publication–in which he criticizes the Bush Administration’s new “‘conscience protection’ rule for the healthcare industry … giving doctors, hospitals, and even receptionists and volunteers in medical experiments the right to refuse to participate in medical care they find morally objectionable.” Bailey characterizes it thusly:

“The Bush Administration is shoveling “midnight regulations” out the doors of agencies faster than a New Hampshire homeowner does snow off his sidewalk in January. One of the most egregious is a new regulation by the Health and Human Services Department that allows the morals of health care providers to trump those of patients.”

Who knew that the non-aggression principle required the morals of patients to “trump” those of “health care providers”. Wow. You learn something new every day.

Update: I’ve received email criticizing my post on the grounds that employers should be free to set whatever conditions they want on employment, and to terminate those who do not follow them. Yes, this is true. A general law applying to all employers would be clearly unlibertarian. As I understand it, this rule merely conditions federal subsidies–providers who violate this rule “would lose their federal funds.” Of course these subsidies are unlibertarian too, but my post focused solely on Reason’s characterization of the regluation as “egregious” and as allowing “the morals of health care providers to trump those of patients.”

5:57 pm on December 19, 2008