With a little over a month left in his US presidency, George Bush is pushing through measures to boost the right of doctors to refuse to provide medical treatments that violate their own religious beliefs.
Called the "right of conscience" rule, it would allow medical facilities, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare workers to refuse to participate in any procedure they find morally objectionable, including abortion and possibly even artificial insemination and birth control.
Even staff members whose job it is to clean the instruments would have the right to refuse.
The new rules would expand on current laws allowing doctors and nurses to refuse to perform an abortion by allowing them to refuse to even provide information on where to get one.
The move sets the stage for a showdown over abortion early in the Barack Obama administration, set to begin with his inauguration on Jan. 20. During the campaign, Obama sought to find middle ground on the issue.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, slammed the Bush While House move.
"It's unconscionable that the Bush administration, while promising a smooth transition, would take a final opportunity to politicize women's health."
The right of doctors to refuse treatment has also been controversial on this side of the border, with the Ontario Medical Association challenging the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons over the issue.