WAIVING POINTS OF ORDER AGAINST CONFERENCE REPORT ON H.R. 4818, CONSOLIDATED APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2005 AND PROVIDING FOR CONSIDERATION OF H.J. RES. 114, MAKING FURTHER CONTINUING APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 2005, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES -- (House of Representatives - November 20, 2004)
Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Speaker, by direction of the Committee on Rules, I call up House Resolution 866 and ask for its immediate consideration.
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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, in 1973, Congress passed the Church Amendment to protect the conscience rights of hospitals and health care providers from being forced into involvement with abortion. The amendment provides that the receipt of Federal funds in various health programs will not require hospitals or individuals to participate in abortions if they object based on moral or religious convictions. It also forbade hospitals in these programs to make, willingness or unwillingness to perform abortions a condition of employment.
Since 1973, and I think many Members know this, various conscience protections, many of which deal specifically with abortion, have been enacted into law. Unfortunately, over the years, gaps in the protection of existing law have been exploited by pro-abortion organizations which have now undertaken a nationwide campaign to require all health care providers to participate in abortion. That campaign has met with some success, and there are a number of those which I will put into the RECORD, including trying to compel Catholic hospitals as a condition of a merger and acquisition to provide abortions. In one case in my own State, they compelled a $2 million settlement that had to go into a trust that paid for abortions. That's outrageous. To counteract this extreme campaign-to force health care providers to participate in abortion-Federal conscience law when signed by President Bush, will now be strengthened.
The principle of the Hyde amendment was that no one should be forced to participate in abortions in any way, and that needs to be affirmed. That is what this Weldon-Hyde amendment will do. The addition of conscience protection to the Hyde amendment remedies current gaps in Federal law and promotes the right of conscientious objection by forbidding federally funded government bodies to coerce the consciences of health care providers who respect fundamentally the right to life and basic human rights for the unborn.
The Campaign To Force Hospitals to Provide Abortion
Forty-five States and the Federal Government protect the right of health care providers to decline involvement in abortion. Pro-abortion groups seek to abolish these legal protections:
ABORTION ACCESS PROJECT
Operating in 24 States, the project's goal is "increasing access to abortion services by expanding ..... the number of hospitals offering abortion services." The project admits that its tactics include "pressuring hospitals" and it does so through both political and legal pressure.
The "Hospital Access Collaborative" division reports on the State projects' legal and regulatory interventions challenging mergers. See www.abortionaccess.org/AAP/campaigns/hospital/hospital.htm (accessed 09/07/03).
AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION-REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM PROJECT: "RELIGIOUS REFUSALS AND REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS."
The ACLU has published a report and advocacy kit aimed at requiring all hospitals, including Catholic hospitals, to provide abortions. The report argues: "When ..... religiously affiliated organizations move into secular pursuits-such as providing medical care or social services to the public or running a business-they should no longer be insulated from secular laws. In the public world, they should play by public rules." ACLU, "Religious Refusals and Reproductive Rights," January 2002, page 11, www.aclu.org/Reproductive Rights/ReproductiveRights.cfm?ID=10516&c=30 (accessed 09/10/03).
GEORGE GUND FOUNDATION, PRO-CHOICE RESOURCE CENTER AND ACLU REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM PROJECT NATIONAL MEETING
"Much of the debate focused on strategy, with participants wonder whether it was better to work toward improving and narrowing conscience clauses or to fight to eliminate them altogether ..... Although reproductive rights activists should still work to improve conscientious exemptions, [ACLU executive director Ira Glaser] said, their ultimate goal should be getting rid of them." See "Conscientious Exemptions and Reproductive Rights," Executive Summary, page 10, www.prochoiceresource.org/about/CERR XBody.pdf (accessed 09/07/03).
In one session at the national meeting, the group analyzed a same conscience protection which "allowed hospitals, their staffs, or 'any other person' to opt out of providing abortions, sterilizations, and contraception if they objected to such services." The participants decided "the measure couldn't be fixed and should be opposed at all costs." Id. at page 11.
MARYLAND NARAL HOSPITAL PROVIDER PROJECT
"The goal of the Hospital Provider Project is to increase access to abortion services by requiring Maryland hospitals to provide abortion ....." www.mdnaral.org/initiatives.htm (accessed 04/05/2002).
PLANNED PARENTHOOD FEDERATION OF AMERICA
"While everyone has the right to their [sic] opinions about reproductive health care, including ..... abortion, it is important to remember that the conscience that matters most belongs to the patient ..... Health care providers who object to providing certain services still have an obligation to respect the rights of their patients and to enable them to access the health care they need." www.plannedparenthood.org/articles/exemptions.html (accessed 09/12/03).
PRO-CHOICE RESOURCE CENTER
"Through its Spotlight Campaign, PCRC [Pro-Choice Resource Center] organizes regional meetings to build a network of opposition to 'conscience' or patient abandonment clauses that allow doctors, pharmacists and entire hospital systems to deny women access to services like abortion ....." See www.prochoiceresource.org/programs/rg Xmeet.html (accessed 09/05/03).
"Right now, so-called 'conscience' clause laws are in place in 45 or 50 States, allowing doctors, pharmacists, clinics, hospitals, managed care plans and even employers to refuse to provide, or to pay for, abortion ..... The MergerWatch program is taking action to expose and overturn these 'conscience' clauses." See. www.prochoice resource.org/programs/spot.html (accessed 09/05/03).
Unfortunately, gaps in the protections of existing laws have been exploited by proabortion organizations, which have undertaken a nationwide campaign to require all health care providers to participate in abortion. That campaign has met with some success. Novel legal and administrative strategies have resulted in:
Forcing a private community hospital to open its doors for late-term abortions,
Denying a certificate of need to an outpatient surgical center that declined involvement in abortion, after an abortion rights coalition intervened in the proceedings,
Forcing a private non-sectarian hospital to leave a cost-saving consortium, because the consortium abided by a pro-life policy in its member hospitals,
Dismantling a hospital merger, after abortion advocates approached a State attorney general to challenge the merger,
Pressuring a hospital to place $2 million in trust for abortions and sterilizations before allowing the hospital to consolidate,
Attempting to require a Catholic hospital to build an abortion clinic and pay for abortions,
Threatening a Catholic-operated HMO with loss of State contracts because it declines to provide abortions,
Prohibiting hospitals from ensuring that the property they sell is not used for abortions.
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