Religious Tolerance logo

Hospital visitations and
critical health-care decisions

President Obama signs the
executive order. Positive reactions

horizontal rule

Sponsored link.

horizontal rule

2010-APR-15: President Obama signs executive order:

In a surprise move, President Obama signed an executive order that directed the Department of Health and Human Services to require all American hospitals that receive Medicaire and Medicade funding to:

  • Not deny visitation and consultation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. 1

  • Extend visitation rights to the partners of lesbian, gay, and bisexual patients if the patient so wishes.

  • Respect choices made by patients about who is authorized to make critical health-care decisions. 2

Laura Meckler of the Wall Street Journal commented that President Obama:

"... cited actions taken by a handful of states that require hospitals to allow patients to designate people outside of their immediate families for visitation privileges, and he said the order would build on those efforts. 3

This order covers virtually all hospitals in the U.S. However, it will probably take several months for HHS to prepare and circulate the necessary rules.

This executive order will remain in place until it is repealed by President Obama or by a subsequent president, or by an act of Congress. It will probably remain intact until at least 2013-JAN.

horizontal rule

Positive reactions to the executive order:

  • Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a LGBT advocacy group, issued a statement saying:
    "Discrimination touches every facet of the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, including at times of crisis and illness, when we need our loved ones with us more than ever."
  • David Smith, a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign said:
    "We see this as part of our ongoing effort to encourage the administration to take action where it has the authority to act. We've been working and pressing the administration on our legislative agenda. That work continues."
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (D-CA) said:
    "This is a critical step in ending discrimination against LGBT families and ensuring, in the event of a hospital stay, all Americans have the right to see their loved ones."
  • Sr. Carol Keehan, executive director of the Catholic Health Association, said:

    "The Catholic Health Association has long championed the rights of all patients to designate who they want to speak for them in health care decisions when they are not able to speak for themselves."

    "Having that person clearly designated is not only a basic human right, it also greatly facilitates care."

    "All persons of goodwill can understand and agree that when a person is sick, they deserve to decide who they want to visit them."

    "The Presidential Memorandum issued by President Obama reaffirms these basic human rights for each person at most critical points of their lives." 4

    This is an encouraging note, becuase the Roman Catholic Church has terminated many agencies in Boston, MA, and Washington, DC, rather than conform to laws requiring them to treat persons of all sexual orientations equally.

horizontal rule
Sponsored link

horizontal rule

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Charles Babington, "Obama: gay partners should have hospital access," Associated Press, 2010-APR-16, at:
  2. B.H. Obama, "Memorandum for the Secretatry of Health and Human Services," White House, 2010-APR-15, at: This is a PDF file.
  3. Laura Meckler, "New rules give gays hospital visit rights," Wall Street Journal, 2010-APR-16, at:
  4. "President Obama's motives in granting hospital visitation rights to homosexuals  questioned," ClericalWhispers blog. 2010-APR-19, at:

horizontal rule

Site navigation:

Home > "Hot" religious topics > Hospital visitation > here

Home > Morality > Hospital visitation > here

Home > Homosexuality > Laws > Hospital visitation > here

horizontal rule

Copyright 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2010-APR-20
Latest update: 2010-APR-20
Author: B.A. Robinson

line.gif (538 bytes)
Sponsored link

Go to the previous page, or to the "Hospital visitation" menu, or choose:


Go to home page   We would really appreciate your help
E-mail us about errors, etc.
  Purchase a CD of this web site
FreeFind search, lists of new essays...
  Having problems printing our essays?

Twitter link

Facebook icon

GooglePage Translator:

This page translator works on Firefox,
Opera, Chrome, and Safari browsers only

After translating, click on the "show
original" button at the top of this
page to restore page to English.


Sponsored link: