The health care legislation that was rushed urgently into a frenzied weekend vote and passage recently was so cumbersome and unwieldy, virtually nobody actually read it. Remember Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying ‘we need to pass the bill to find out what’s in it’? Well they did, and we are.

Here are just two things that have emerged in the past few days. They deserve attention.

First, the Washington Post raised the issue of physician conscience protection or lack thereof.

Deep within the massive health-care overhaul legislation, a few little-noticed provisions have quietly reignited one of the bitterest debates in medicine: how to balance the right of doctors, nurses and other workers to refuse to provide services on moral or religious grounds with the right of patients to get care.

That little word is being distorted beyond recognition to disguise acts against human life and dignity. Just look at the former Hemlock Society renaming themselves ‘Compassion and Choices’ touting their care and aid in dying.

Advocates for protecting health workers argue the new law leaves vulnerable those with qualms about abortion, morning-after pills, stem cell research and therapies, assisted suicide and a host of other services. Proponents of patients’ rights, meanwhile, contend that, if anything, the legislation favors those who oppose some end-of-life therapies and the termination of pregnancies and creates new obstacles for dying patients and women seeking abortions.

That’s a lot of politically-correct doublespeak.

The debate has focused attention on President Obama’s plan to rescind a federal regulation put into effect by the previous administration to protect workers who refuse to provide care they find objectionable. Soon after taking office, Obama announced he would lift the rule, arguing it could create obstacles to abortion and other reproductive health services.

It did not change abortion law or access to it, or contraception for that matter. It only respected and protected health care workers’ moral opposition to certain procedures and/or medications.

“The act is thousands of pages of new government power, decision-making and funding,” said Matthew S. Bowman of the Alliance Defense Fund, which represents workers who object on religious grounds to being required to provide some forms of health care. “Any government power over health care can be exercised in a way that discriminates against pro-life health providers, especially when officials already support abortion and oppose enforcement of conscience laws.”

Besides the expansion of power in the new health care law, there’s the problem of its cost. Which is far more than the Obama administration represented in the runup to the congressional vote, notes Politico.

Congressional Budget Office estimates released Tuesday predict the health care overhaul will likely cost about $115 billion more in discretionary spending over ten years than the original cost projections.

Re-read that sentence and let it sink in, if terms like ‘billions more’ can still penetrate our saturated consciences.

The additional spending — if approved over the years by Congress — would bring the total estimated cost of the overhaul to over $1 trillion.

And the key to that sentence is the fact that Congress still has to approve the spending for this legislation, piecemeal. That’s where there’s hope. Maybe they’ll finally pay attention to the will of the people, who they represent. They’ll certainly hear from them in November.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....