The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and other organizations again are urging Congress to approve legislation to protect the conscience rights of pro-life health care providers.
The Conscience Protection Act (CPA) — one of the ERLC’s legislative priorities in its 2018 agenda — would bar government discrimination against health care workers and facilities that object to being involved in abortion, as well as health insurers that refuse to provide coverage of the lethal procedure. The bill will provide victims of discrimination with the ability to defend their rights in court in a first for federal laws to protect health care conscience rights.
Supporters of the bill are calling for inclusion of the CPA in a new omnibus federal spending bill, which could be voted on soon by the House of Representatives. The temporary spending resolution now in effect expires March 23.
ERLC President Russell Moore told Baptist Press the CPA is necessary to protect freedom of conscience on abortion.
“It is completely unjust that any American doctor or clinic would be punished for holding to their beliefs on the sanctity of human life,” Moore said in written comments for BP. “My prayer is that members of Congress would stand up for human dignity and make clear that the federal government has no authority to dictate to the conscience.”
The CPA is necessary, according to the ERLC, because the Obama administration refused to enforce the Weldon Amendment, a measure that protects conscience rights. The amendment, an annual rider since 2004 to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spending measure, bars funds for a federal program — or state or local government receiving federal funds — that “subjects any institutional or individual health care entity to discrimination on the basis that the health care entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.”
The proposal would establish in federal law the Weldon and Hyde amendments, which now must be approved yearly as riders to spending bills. The Hyde Amendment bans federal funding of abortion. The CDA also would enable a victim of discrimination to file a civil suit without submitting a complaint to HHS.
While the Trump administration’s HHS has acted to protect freedom of conscience, supporters of the CPA contend the bill is still needed.
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Source: Baptist Press