Friday, May 28, 2010

Expanding Visitation Rights to Gays and Others

The headline reads “Obama orders most hospitals to grant gays visitation rights”.

But read on, the article later reads that this would also allow visitation by un-married heterosexual couples, people of religious orders that may not allow marriage, elderly people with deceased spouses and others.

President Obama issued a memo to the Health and Human Services agency ordering the secretary to ensure that all hospitals receiving Medicare and Medicaid money to honor all patient’s directives about visitation privileges. This means that the patient can list people he or she would like to have visitation privileges without regard to family status.

A senior fellow at the conservative Family Research Council, Peter Sprigg, insists that, “The memorandum undermines the definition of marriage and furthers big government takeover” of the health care system.

It is difficult to find a compelling reason why government or hospitals should allow visitation rights to only family members when the patient requests non-family members visitation rights. Government should only act when there is a risk to the secure and safe environment. Then, it should act in the least intrusive way. No valid argument can be made that proves this is a takeover of the health care system or undermining the definition of marriage. Just the opposite. First, this is getting government and policy out of the health care system. Second, if a patient requests someone to have visitation rights, why should those rights be denied?

This is a big step for gay couples who in the past have not been able to see their loved one because of outdated hospital rules and cultural norms. But, it is important to understand something even more fundamental. When one person has less rights, all do. These same outdated rules excluded plenty of other people.

People in ill health need the support of people they share an emotional bond with. This move helps assure that they will be around when needed.


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