Conscience Rights Under Fierce Attack

The U.S. Congress enacted the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA) in 1993, an act intended to protect people of conscience from being forced into participating in abortions.   In 2004, the Congress enacted the Hyde-Weldon Amendment which does not allow the federal government to discriminate against a health care provider for refusing to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.

Both of these laws and any other provision of federal law that protects the rights of conscience under health coverage mandates would be stripped away under legislation promoted by U.S. Senate Democrats.   The “Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act” (S. 2578) failed to move forward yesterday when it did not receive the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture and allow the full Senate to take up the bill. 

“All Americans should rightly be concerned that every Senate Democrat supported a bill to trample on our rights of conscience,” commented Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life regarding S. 2578.  “This bill would roll back federal conscience protections and further empower the Obama Administration to mandate coverage of the abortion pill RU 486, elective abortion, and even late abortions.” 

Obamacare contains a provision which allows the Department of Health and Human Services to add RU 486 and elective abortions, even including late abortions, to the list of mandated “preventive services” even if providers object to providing them under freedom of conscience.  Providers would have no recourse under RFRA or other provisions of federal law if S. 2578 had become law.

“Never has there been such a blatant and willful attack on rights of conscience,” Tobias said.  “That Senate Democrats would seek to restrict our rights of conscience and roll back existing protections is outrageous.” 

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