On abortion, defer to Congress

President Obama should allow Congress to review Bush’s last minute abortion regulation.

The Obama administration is set to review recommendations from the health advocates and medical groups before repealing a last-minute Bush administration regulation that strengthened the ability of doctors and nurses to refuse service because of moral qualms like abortion. We support President Barack ObamaâÄôs justification to overturn BushâÄôs strong-arm, last-minute regulation. Nevertheless, the policy change âÄî coming not three months after Bush instituted the regulation âÄîhighlights just how unchecked the executive branch is, and Obama would be wise to defer to Congress on the issue. The controversial nature of the so-called midnight regulation âÄî and others instituted by Bush âÄî illustrates the need for Congressional review. Fondly referred to as the conscience clause, the law also allows for insurance companies to have discretion when awarding claims to women who undergo an abortion. Its intention was to cut funding to hospitals that fail to protect moral objectors. The clause could extend to birth control and other family planning services; it is not exclusive to providing abortions. Executive orders contravene the theory of checks and balances and they allow for important decisions to be made by the very branch of government that deserves the most scrutiny. President Obama should therefore make use of the very reasonable Congressional Review Act of 1996, which grants Congress 60 days to review federal regulations and vote on them, in making the policy change. That would show eminent respect to Congress and also show that the former constitutional law professor realizes executive power has improperly (some logically argue unconstitutionally) expanded under the Bush administration. Congress was designed for slow action on weighty, important issues, and abortion certainly falls under that category.