Obama Orders Hospital Visitation Rights for Gay Partners, Friends of Widows

Monday, April 19, 2010
The Langbehn-Pond Family

Described as a change long overdue by gay rights activists, hospitals will soon have to allow visitation rights to homosexual partners, under orders from President Barack Obama. The new rule will be enforced through the federal government’s Medicare and Medicaid programs, which most hospitals participate in. If hospitals don’t comply with the visitation mandate, they will risk eligibility in the federal healthcare programs.

The change was inspired by a case in Florida where Janice Langbehn was prevented by
officials at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami from seeing her lesbian partner, Lisa Pond, who suffered a fatal brain aneurysm. Langbehn was denied visiting rights even though she had power of attorney. She and the four children raised by the couple were kept from seeing Pond before she died. President Obama personally called Langbehn to express his regrets after ordering the Department of Health and Human Services to begin drafting rules to enforce visitation rights for homosexuals.
The new rule will also affect widows and widowers who have been unable to receive visits from a friend or companion. In addition, members of some religious groups will gain the right to designate someone other than a family member to make medical decisions.
Delaware, Nebraska, Minnesota and North Carolina have already adopted laws that expand visitation rights beyond legal family members.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Obama Widens Medical Rights for Gay Partners (by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, New York Times)


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