February 3, 2009 Women and Medical Professionals Intervene in Federal Case to Protect the Right to Conscience

HARTFORD, CT. —Representing Concerned Women for America, America’s largest women’s advocacy group and four other groups of pro-life medical professionals, attorneys with Advocates International filed a motion to intervene yesterday in three lawsuits commenced on January 15 that seek to invalidate a federal law protecting medical professionals from discrimination because they refuse to participate in abortions. Advocates International is seeking to defend the law against challenges by some state officials, Planned Parenthood, and the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union. "As we face the most pro-abortion Congress and administration in American history, medical professionals can no longer depend on government to protect their rights not to be forced to perform abortions against their conscience. Despite the well-established laws protecting the health care right of conscience, Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and their pro-abortion allies are now hoping for the cooperation of the Obama administration as they again seek to punish pro-life medical professionals for their beliefs," said Samuel B. Casey, General Counsel of Advocates International’s Law of Life Project. "Our clients are opposing these lawsuits because they wrongfully seek to compel health care workers to perform abortions against their ethical and professional judgment or face dire consequences."

"For over three decades, federal law has prohibited recipients of federal grants from forcing medical professionals to participate in abortions. The arguments in the lawsuits themselves demonstrate lack of compliance with these laws and the necessity of the fair non-discrimination Women and Medical Professionals Intervene to Protect the Right of Conscience Page 2


Health and Human Services (HHS) regulations these pro-abortion groups are challenging," said attorney Howard Wood, of Manchester who is assisting as Advocates International’s lead local counsel in the case. Concerned Woman for America (CWA), Christian Pharmacists Fellowship International, Care Net, Heartbeat International and the New Jersey Physicians Resource Council, Advocates International attorneys, are asking to be allowed to intervene and defend the law, 45 CFR Part 88, enacted in December 2008 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Noting a pattern of grant recipients unaware of or flouting existing laws protecting medical professionals’ rights of conscience, HHS enacted the new law to require grantees to certify compliance with them in order to receive funds. The three long-standing statutes are the Church Amendment, the Coats-Snowe Amendment, and the Weldon Amendment. Many of the plaintiffs challenging the HHS law in this case failed in previous efforts to have the Weldon Amendment struck down. Most of the clients represented by Advocates International filed testimony in support of their intervention motion pointing out that denying rights of conscience could harm access to healthcare for all by forcing medical professionals who refuse to perform abortions to either relocate from jurisdictions that force them to do so or leave the profession altogether. Advocates International’s brief in support of CWA et al.’s motion to intervene in the case, CONNECTICUT ET AL. V. UNITED STATES, 3:09 CV 54 (RNC) (D. CT.) are available at:


http://www.advocatesinternational.org/pages/taskForces/lawOfLife/MotionIntervene_CTvUSA.pdf.


Last week, The Christian Medical Association, Catholic Medical Association, and American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, represented by attorneys from the Alliance Defense Fund (www.telladf.org) and Christian Legal Society (www.clsnet.org) also intervened and asked the court to be allowed to defend the law.


Advocates International is an international organization of attorneys in over 150 nations who seek to do justice with compassion, including through its Global Task Forces on the Law of Life and Religious Freedom protecting the right of health care professionals not to perform or refer for elective abortions.


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