WASHINGTON (July 13, 2004) -—Leaders of three Catholic organizations have urged Congress to add Conscience Protection language to the Fiscal Year 2005 Labor/HHS Appropriations bill's Hyde Amendment on abortion funding.
"This additional language is urgently needed to counteract a nationwide effort to attack the conscience rights of religious and other health care providers," the leaders said in a July 13 letter to House Appropriations Committee members.
The letter was signed by Msgr. William P. Fay, General Secretary, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; Father Michael D. Place, STD, President and Chief Executive Officer, the Catholic Health Association of the United States; and John D. Lane, M.D., President, Catholic Medical Association.
The letter cited an Alaska court which forced a community hospital to provide elective late-term abortions contrary to its policy and the sentiment of the community, and a New Jersey case in which abortion advocacy groups urged the State to require a Catholic health system to build an abortion clinic on its premises to serve what they see as a right of "access" to abortion. This year, the letter noted, the State of New Mexico refused to approve a hospital lease because the community-owned hospital, following the same policy as over 80% of hospitals in the United States, declined to perform elective abortions.
"The Conscience Protection language will protect hospitals and other institutional and individual health care providers from governmental discrimination when they decline to provide, pay for, or refer for abortion," the letter said.
The full text of the letter will be available at: www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/abortion/weldonhydeamend071304.pdf.