WASHINGTON (December 9, 2003) -- An official of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) applauded the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA) and urged speedy passage by the Congress.
"Congress has another opportunity to protect health care providers who do not want to participate in abortions," said Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq., Director of Planning and Information for the USCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. "No one should be forced into the practice of abortion."
On December 8, Congressman Mike Bilirakis (R-FL) re-introduced the bipartisan Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA) in the House of Representatives, H.R. 3664. The bill had previously passed the House in 2002. Senate bill S. 1397, introduced by Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH), also enjoys bipartisan sponsorship. This legislation would prohibit governmental discrimination against health care providers who decline to be involved in abortion.
This legislation responds to the coordinated effort to force health care providers from Alaska to New York -- hospitals, insurance providers, and outpatient clinics -- to provide, pay for, and make referrals for abortion. "Forced abortion participation has no place in a country that respects the right of conscience for all," Ms. Ruse said.
Current federal law already protects "health care entities" from having to perform or provide for abortions, but it has been interpreted to protect only individual physicians and training programs, leaving hospitals, health plans, nurses, and other health care participants without protection.
"ANDA simply clarifies what should be obvious," Ms. Ruse stated. "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 promote a 'right to choose' deny the right of health care providers to choose not to perform abortion," Ms. Ruse 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.' "
"We urge Congress to act swiftly in the New Year to pass this common-sense protection for the rights of conscience