Friday, April 16, 2010

Visitation Rights

President Obama issued a memorandum to hospitals to extend visitation rights to same-sex partners.

The president directed the Department of Health and Human Services to prohibit discrimination in hospital visitation in a memo that was e-mailed to reporters Thursday night while he was at a fundraiser in Miami.

Administration officials and gay activists, who have been quietly working together on the issue, said the new rule will affect any hospital that receives Medicare or Medicaid funding, a move that covers the vast majority of the nation’s health-care institutions. Obama’s order will start a rule-making process at HHS that could take several months, officials said.

Hospitals often bar visitors who are not related to an incapacitated patient by blood or marriage, and gay rights activists say many do not respect same-sex couples’ efforts to designate a partner to make medical decisions for them if they are seriously ill or injured.

This is a sensible and compassionate move. It also reinforces family values, and it’s good medicine; after all, separating people from their loved ones at times of stress doesn’t help the healing process, and it allows the patient and his family to participate in decisions.

So who could be against this? Yeah, you guessed it.

“In its current political context, President Obama’s memorandum clearly constitutes pandering to a radical special interest group,” said Peter S. Sprigg, a senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council. He said that his organization does not object to gays giving their partners power of attorney but that it questions Obama’s motives.

“The memorandum undermines the definition of marriage,” he said.

I have a suggestion for Mr. Sprigg, but if he follows it, he will need medical attention himself in order to extricate the garden rake from his ass.