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Chemberlin: churches find Obama memorandum
on patient visits 'enhances the common good'

New York, April 16, 2010 -- The President of the National Council of Churches said today that President Obama's memorandum to Health And Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius requiring hospitals to "respect the rights of patients to designate visitors" will be "affirmed by most Americans."

The presidential ruling, which applies to hospitals receiving Medicaid or Medicare, assures that patient visits will not be denied "on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability." 

The Rev. Canon Peg Chemberlin, issued the following statement:

"President Obama’s memorandum on April 15, 2010 regarding respect for patients’ rights, is simply that, a directive that tells hospitals to respect the rights of the patient to designate visitors. This is, I believe, inline with what most Americans would affirm. The patient gets to decide.  

"Health care facilities are a significant part of community life. They are often the place where life emerges into community and where life passes out of community. However, often a patient’s community doesn’t fit the norm and so the loving care and kindness of the patient’s community are kept from them. This memorandum restores the opportunity for such a community to be present. It allows the patient to name those who make up his or her community. 

"While the 36 member communions of the NCC have different views on sexual orientation, we emphatically agree that – as we said in a resolution in 1995 –“The Church must stand with those persons whose human rights are abridged or denied on the basis of sexual orientation.” Our affirmation of human rights gives us the perspective that the President’s memorandum enhances the common good. "

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell) ,

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