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Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Location: Washington, DC



By Mr. SANTORUM (for himself, Mr. NELSON of Nebraska, Mr. INHOFE, Mr. DEMINT, Mr. DEWINE, Mr. HAGEL, Mr. COBURN, Mr. GREGG, Mr. BROWNBACK, Mr. ENSIGN, Mr. MARTINEZ, Mr. KYL, Mr. VITTER, and Mr. BURR):

S. 1983. A bill to prohibit certain abortion-related discrimination in governmental activities; to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Mr. SANTORUM. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act of 2005. I am pleased to be joined in this effort by Senators BEN NELSON, INHOFE, DEMINT, DEWINE, HAGEL, COBURN, GREGG, BROWNBACK, ENSIGN, MARTINEZ, KYL, VITTER, and BURR.

Abortion has been, and continues to be, one of the most divisive social issues in our Nation. I realize that there are people of good will on both sides of this issue, people who working for the best interests of women, children and families. Despite the great disagreements, there are points of this debate where the vast majority of Americans agree, for example the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, and the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act. The bill I introduce today is one of these areas of common ground. However one may feel about abortion, surely we can agree on the principle that no one should be forced to participate in an abortion in violation of one's conscience.

We should all agree that no person or entity should be forced, against their will or conscience, to provide, refer for, or pay for an abortion. No entity should be forced to choose between being involved in an abortion or losing its funding, its certification, or its ability to exist as a hospital. Healthcare entities including physicians, other health professionals, hospitals, provider-sponsored organizations, health maintenance organizations, and health insurance plans should not be coerced into providing abortion services, and they certainly should not be discriminated against because of their objections to providing or paying for abortions.

Current law, as has been interpreted by some courts, only provides protection for individual physicians, postgraduate physician training programs, and participants in health professions training. This narrow interpretation excludes from protection those who deserve it. The Abortion Non-Discrimination Act of 2005 directly addresses these concerns by clarifying and strengthening existing law. This legislation makes clear that other health professionals, hospitals, health insurance plans, and any other kind of health care facility, organization, or plan cannot be forced to perform, provide coverage of, or pay for an abortion when it conflicts with their conscience. These individuals and organizations deserve the freedom to follow their conscience in protecting innocent life. They should not be forced to suffer financial consequences for their choice not to participate in an abortion.

I am thankful for the Hyde-Weldon conscience protection language that was included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2005, but I believe it is appropriate to codify such conscience protection in Federal law. I am hopeful the Senate will act to pass the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act during this Congress.

I ask unanimous consent that the text of this legislation be printed in the RECORD.

There being no objection, the bill was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:

S. 1983

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