WASHINGTON (September 25, 2002) -- An official of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops hailed the House of Representatives today for its 229-to-189 vote approving H.R. 4691, the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act.
"This modest but urgently needed legislation reaffirms that no health care provider should be forced to participate in abortion against his or her will," said Richard M. Doerflinger, Deputy Director of the USCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. "Today 192 Republicans and 37 Democrats helped ensure that health professionals will be 'free to choose' not to destroy innocent human life."
Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, Chairman of the USCCB Committee for Pro-Life Activities, had written to all House members on September 20 urging approval of the bill, which clarifies the scope of a nondiscrimination statute (42 USC §238n) approved by Congress in 1996.
"The current law protects 'health care entities,' including medical residency programs, from being forced by government bodies to provide abortions or abortion training," wrote Cardinal Bevilacqua. "The new bill makes it clear that this protection extends to the full range of health care entities, including hospitals and individual health professionals other than physicians. It also applies this protection to entities being told they must pay for abortions against their will."
"The House has said it will stand against renewed efforts by abortion advocates to force their agenda on conscientiously opposed doctors, nurses and hospitals," said Mr. Doerflinger. "We urge the Senate to do the same."