WASHINGTON (July 12, 2002) -- Congress must move swiftly to pass the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA) to protect health care providers who do not wish to participate in abortions, according to Cathy Cleaver, Esq., Director of Planning and Information for the Pro-Life Secretariat of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
"No one should be forced to perform or provide abortion," Ms. Cleaver said. "Yet there is a coordinated effort to force health care providers from Alaska to New York, hospitals, insurance providers, and outpatient clinics to provide, pay for, or make referrals for abortion. Forced abortion participation has no place in a country that respects the right of conscience for all."
The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing on ANDA (H.R. 4691) on July 11. Current federal law already protects "health care entities" from having to perform or provide for abortions, but this law has been interpreted to protect only individual physicians and training programs, leaving hospitals, health plans and other health care facilities without protection for their right of conscience.
"ANDA simply clarifies what should be obvious," Ms. Cleaver said. "Legal protection for "health care entities' includes the full range of participants who provide health care-no one who provides health care should be forced to participate in abortion."
"The irony here cannot be ignored: The same abortion advocates who tout a 'right to choose' deny the right of others to choose not to perform abortion," Ms. Cleaver noted. "They tell us, 'if you don't like abortion, don't have one.' Pro-life health providers must be able to say, 'we don't like abortion so, don't force us to perform them.'"