Today, Congressmen Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Diane Black (R-TN), and John Fleming, M.D. (R-LA) introduced the Health Care Conscience Rights Act. The act has 50 bipartisan co-sponsors. The act would prevent the HHS mandate from requiring that religious organizations, for-profit companies, and individuals violate their faiths by forcing them to buy contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization for employee health plans. The act would also prohibit forcing health care professionals to assist at or perform procedures such as abortions. Read the text of the bill here.
As a family physician who has treated thousands of patients during more than 30 years of practicing medicine, the integrity of the doctor-patient relationship is invaluable. Health care workers are dedicated to caring for their patients, and the religious freedom of these health care workers, and providers alike, must be protected. No individual should be forced or coerced to perform an abortion. Likewise, neither non-profit nor for-profit businesses, universities or other health care providers should be required to cover drugs that can lead to the destruction of human life. This legislation protects the First Amendment rights of the American health care community by allowing them to refuse to participate in procedures that violate their deeply held beliefs.
We have come together to act to protect Americans’ most basic rights – our rights of conscience and religious freedom. The Health Care Conscience Rights Act simply restores the basic rights in health care that were widely accepted before the implementation of the new health care law. As the president said at last year’s National Prayer Breakfast, we cannot leave our values at the door. This legislation will protect the time-honored tradition of respecting conscience rights in health care.
Under the Obama Administration, we have seen an unprecedented growth in the size and scope of government. The administration has leveraged its expansion of government to trample on the religious freedom of private individuals, hospitals, non-profits, businesses, churches and universities – forcing many Americans to make an impossible choice: either defy your religious convictions or break the law and face financially-crippling legal penalties. As a nurse for more than 40 years, I am proud to introduce the Health Care Conscience Rights Act to protect religious freedom, disempower Obamacare, and stop the administration’s assault on Americans’ First Amendment rights.
Archbishop Lori, chairman of the USCCB ad hoc committee for religious liberty, said:
I am grateful to Congresswoman Black and other sponsors for their leadership today. I welcome the Health Care Conscience Rights Act and call for its swift passage into law. While federal laws are on the books protecting conscience rights in health care, this Act would make such protection truly effective. This overdue measure is especially needed in light of new challenges to conscience rights arising from the federal health care reform act.