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Public Statements

Freedom of Conscience

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Fortenberry, thank you for your extraordinary leadership. This has been a very tough fight. You have been walking point, and doing it with great class and with great precision. I think your opening comments for this Special Order which you have sponsored just summed up the issue so eloquently. I want to thank you for your leadership. It is making a difference. And while we may not have success on the short-term, I do believe on the intermediate and long-term we will prevail over time, and I thank you for your leadership, Mr. Fortenberry.

Mr. Speaker, President Obama today is using the coercive power of the state to force tens of millions of people of faith and people of conscience to violate a fundamental conviction or suffer a severe penalty. What Mr. Obama has done is unconscionable, unprecedented, and violates religious freedom. By coercing all insurance plans, including those offered by faith-based institutions, to pay for drugs and devices that are contrary to their deeply held beliefs, including subsidizing abortion drugs like Ella and Plan B, President Obama demonstrates a reckless disregard for conscience rights.

Everyone must comply, regardless of moral convictions or religious tenets, simply because his administration says so. Mr. Obama's means of coercing compliance--absolutely ruinous fines of $100 per day per employee that total up to over $36,000 per year per employee. Just people listening at home, our Members who may be listening to today's important Special Order, $36,500 per employee per year.

When faith-based organizations refuse to comply, Obama's mandate will impose incalculable harm on millions of children educated in faith-based schools, as well as the poor, the sick, the disabled, and frail elderly who are served with such compassion and dignity by faith-based entities.

Even Notre Dame, which heaped praise and honors and an honorary degree on President Obama in 2009, will be crushed by this cruel mandate. Astonishingly, it was President Obama in his 2009 speech at Notre Dame University, who said:

Let's honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion and draft a sensible conscience clause.

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