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Obama Admn. Threatens ‘Conscience Protections' for Medical Professionals and Their Patients

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Obama Admn. Threatens ‘Conscience Protections' for Medical Professionals and Their Patients

Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), co-chairman of the House Pro-life Caucus, today denounced President Obama's plans to rescind regulations that protect freedom of conscience. These anti-discrimination laws are intended to benefit prolife health care providers and institutions.

"Congress has enacted conscience protection provisions on repeated occasions since the 1970s," Smith said. "Finally, regulations are in place to improve awareness and enforcement of these existing laws and to provide an avenue of recourse for health care providers who have been discriminated against because they support the culture of life.

"President Obama's move to repeal these regulations targets those doctors, nurses, other medical professionals and hospitals, especially Catholic hospitals, that choose to exercise their freedom of conscience and choose not to be complicit in the brutal act of abortion.

Smith said patients, too, will suffer the consequences of Obama's attack on the conscience protection regulations.

"Women deserve to have the option to choose doctors who reflect their views on the sanctity of human life," he said. "They will lose that freedom if pro-life health care professionals are driven from the medical field.

"Without long-standing ‘conscience protection' the extremist abortion lobby will eventually turn every ob-gyn into an abortionist," Smith said. "To see where they are trying to take us, look no further than the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists so-called Ethics Opinion that says all ob-gyns should make referrals for abortion, and those who won't do abortions should relocate in close proximity to an abortionist. The nation is under siege by pro-abortion radicals who are attacking the fundamental right of conscience, and are attempting to impose their will through the Obama administration. It is ironic that they like to be called pro-choice, instead of pro-abortion, but that their preference for ‘choice' refers only to people who support the killing of unborn children."

In August, 2008 the Department of Health and Human Services proposed regulations to implement a series of federal laws protecting medical personnel who refuse to participate in abortion-related activities from discrimination. Federal laws include the 1973 "Church Amendments," the 1996 Public Health Service Act amendment, and the 2004 "Hyde-Weldon amendment." The regulations were finalized on December 18, 2008 and went into effect January 20, 2009. The regulations are intended to educate those in the medical field as well as the general public about the rights of medical personnel to treat their patients in accordance with their conscience free from discrimination or intimidation. They also give health care professionals recourse to the HHS Office of Civil Rights and a way to press charges in the event they experience discrimination.

In addition, the regulations are limited in scope to the federal laws and while protecting applicable individuals and health care entities from discrimination, they do not limit or restrict any legal practice or product.

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