Health Workers Who Oppose Abortion Get New Protections
By ROBERT PEAR, The New York Times, JAN. 18, 2018
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration announced on Thursday that it was taking new steps to protect doctors, nurses and other health workers who have religious or moral objections to performing abortions or sex-change operations, or providing other medical services.
The move, one day before the annual March for Life in Washington, was a priority for anti-abortion groups.
Administration officials urged people to report discrimination to a new unit of the federal government: the conscience and religious freedom division of the office for civil rights at the Department of Health and Human Services.
Roger Severino, the director of the civil rights office, promised that he and his staff would thoroughly investigate every complaint.
For too long, Mr. Severino said, the federal government has ignored such complaints or treated them with “outright hostility.”
Supporters of the new office, like the Family Research Council, welcomed it as a way to protect the rights of health care professionals.
Critics said the administration was giving health care providers a license to discriminate, and they raised the possibility that some doctors might deny fertility treatments to lesbian couples and that some pharmacists might refuse to fill prescriptions for certain types of contraceptives. In such situations, patients could suffer, and health care workers could violate professional or ethical obligations.
“Donald Trump’s administration is handing out permission slips for hospitals and providers to deny individuals, including women and LGBT patients, access to a full range of health services including life saving emergency care,” said Dawn Huckelbridge, director of the Women’s Rights Initiative at American Bridge, a Democratic advocacy group. “If there is any doubt about how morally repulsive, politically unpopular, and far-reaching the consequences of this rule will be, crafting it in secret behind closed doors and without public input says all you need to know.”
Eric D. Hargan, the acting secretary of health and human services, said the new initiative carries out an executive order issued last year by President Trump, who said that people of faith would no longer be bullied or silenced.
Representative Vicky Hartzler, Republican of Missouri, who attended an event announcing the new office, said, “No nurse or doctor should lose her job, her livelihood or her profession because of her faith.”
(ג) כְּשֶׁעוֹשִׂים דְּבָרִים הָאֵלּוּ אֵין עוֹשִׂין אוֹתָן לֹא עַל יְדֵי נָכְרִים וְלֹא עַל יְדֵי קְטַנִּים וְלֹא עַל יְדֵי עֲבָדִים וְלֹא עַל יְדֵי נָשִׁים כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא תְּהֵא שַׁבָּת קַלָּה בְּעֵינֵיהֶם. אֶלָּא עַל יְדֵי גְּדוֹלֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְחַכְמֵיהֶם. וְאָסוּר לְהִתְמַהְמֵהַּ בְּחִלּוּל שַׁבָּת לְחוֹלֶה שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ סַכָּנָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא יח ה) "אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה אוֹתָם הָאָדָם וָחַי בָּהֶם" וְלֹא שֶׁיָּמוּת בָּהֶם. הָא לָמַדְתָּ שֶׁאֵין מִשְׁפְּטֵי הַתּוֹרָה נְקָמָה בָּעוֹלָם אֶלָּא רַחֲמִים וְחֶסֶד וְשָׁלוֹם בָּעוֹלָם. וְאִלּוּ הָאֶפִּיקוֹרוֹסִים שֶׁאוֹמְרִים שֶׁזֶּה חִלּוּל שַׁבָּת וְאָסוּר עֲלֵיהֶן הַכָּתוּב אוֹמֵר (יחזקאל כ כה) "גַּם אֲנִי נָתַתִּי לָהֶם חֻקִּים לֹא טוֹבִים וּמִשְׁפָּטִים לֹא יִחְיוּ בָּהֶם":
(3) These things should not be performed by non-Jews, minors, servants or women, lest they consider the Sabbath a light matter; instead, scholars and sages of Israel are to carry them out. One must not put off the desecration of the Sabbath in treating a serious patient, as it is written: "If a man obeys them he shall live by them" (Leviticus 18:5), but he must not die by them. From this you may infer that the laws of the Torah are not meant to wreak vengeance upon the world, but to bestow on it mercy, kindliness, and peace.— —
הלכות יסודי התורה פרק ה
א בשעה שיעמוד גוי ויאנוס את ישראל לעבור על אחת מכל מצוות האמורות בתורה או יהרגנו, יעבור ואל ייהרג: שנאמר במצוות, "אשר יעשה אותם האדם וחי בהם" --ולא שימות בהם. ואם מת ולא עבר, הרי זה מתחייב בנפשו.
ו וכל מי שנאמר בו ייהרג ואל יעבור, ועבר ולא נהרג--הרי זה מחלל את השם ... ואף על פי כן, מפני שעבר באונס, אין מלקין אותו ואין צריך לומר שאין ממיתין אותו בית דין, אפילו הרג באונס:
Laws of Foundations of Torah 5
1. Should a gentile arise and force a Jew to violate one of the Torah's commandments at the pain of death, he should violate the commandment rather than be killed, because it states concerning the commandments: which a man may perform and live by them -- and not die because of them. If a person dies rather than transgress, he is held accountable for his life.
When anyone about whom it is said "Sacrifice your life and do not transgress," transgresses instead of sacrificing his life he desecrates [God's] name ... nevertheless, since he was forced to transgress, he is not lashed and, needless to say, he is not executed by the court even if he was forced to kill.
A ZAKA delegation, a rescue team made up of ultra-orthodox Jewish men worked in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince soon after the 2010 Haiti earthquake. They took time out to recite Shabbat prayers and continued to work throughout Shabbat:
"We did everything to save lives, despite Shabbat. People asked, 'Why are you here? There are no Jews here', but we are here because the Torah orders us to save lives… We are desecrating Shabbat with pride…," Mati Goldstein commander of the Jewish ZAKA rescue-mission to 2010 Haiti earthquake