Medical and Legal Professionals Urge HHS to Enforce the Law as Obama Administration Poised to Rescind Conscience Protection


WASHINGTON, DC — Representing a coalition of medical and legal professionals, attorneys for Advocates International (AI) and the Christian Legal Society (CLS) today warned the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) against rescinding protections for healthcare professionals’ freedom of conscience currently set forth in federal regulations (45 C.F.R., Part 88) as HHS proposed to do on March 10 (74 Fed. Reg. 10207). In addition to AI and CLS, the Coalition includes the thousands of faith-based health care professionals represented by Christian Medical Association, Fellowship of Christian Physician Assistants, Christian Pharmacists Fellowship International, Heartbeat International, and CareNet.

The HHS has proposed to rescind regulations the previous administration enacted to protect freedom of conscience. The regulations prohibit federal grantees from discriminating against medical professionals and institutions for exercising their conscience rights. These victims of discrimination include doctors, physician assistants, and nurses that decline to perform or refer for abortions and medical students that do not wish to train in the performance of abortions. HHS accepted comments on the proposed rescission through midnight last night. "Our comments let Planned Parenthood, other abortion advocates, and the states challenging these laws demonstrate with their own words that they are uninformed about their obligations as federal grantees under 35 years of conscience protection statutes," said both Sam Casey, General Counsel of Advocates International and Casey Mattox, Litigation Counsel for CLS’ Center for Law & Religious Freedom. "These regulations simply require recipients of federal funds to certify that they will obey existing federal laws barring non-discrimination against health care providers and entities who exercise their rights of conscience. Sadly, rescission is being proposed by the most abortion-friendly administration simply to make it harder for health care professionals to enforce their conscience rights to stand for life. We are asking the Obama administration to relent in their potentially unconstitutional and surely un-American proposal."

The comments also provide testimonies of discrimination against dozens of medical professionals because they refused to participate in abortions, and point to recent polls conducted by coalition member Christian Medical Association which reveal 87% of Americans believe conscience rights should be protected. The coalition has produced evidence that over 90% of pro-life healthcare professionals would sooner leave the field than violate their conscience. This would result in reduced access to medical care, particularly for women. For further information see http://www.freedom2care.org/. "The abortion lobby calls this a ‘midnight regulation,’ but if they had their way it would be the 11th hour for conscience in the medical profession," said Casey and Mattox.

The coalition’s comments will be available on Monday at www.advocatesinternational.org. Before then, contact Samuel B. Casey using the above contact information to obtain a copy.

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 protecting the inalienable and sacred right to human life from biological conception to natural death.

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