WASHINGTON (November 22, 2004) – A federal spending bill passed by Congress on Saturday includes protection against discrimination for hospitals and health care providers who decline to provide, pay for, or refer for abortions. The provision, known as the "Hyde-Weldon Conscience Protection Amendment," is named after its House sponsors, Reps. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) and Dave Weldon (R-Fl.).
"We applaud Congress' recognition that hospitals and other health care providers should have a right to choose not to be involved in destroying life," said Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq., Director of Planning and Information for the USCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. "Over a million abortions are done every year by willing abortion providers in this country. It is outrageous to suggest that Catholic health care providers and others with moral objections should be forced into the practice of abortion."
"The threat of discrimination is not theoretical, it is real," said Ruse. "Already, hospitals in Alaska, New Jersey, and New Mexico have been discriminated against because of their pro-life policies."
Current federal law already protects "health care entities" from having to perform or provide for abortions. The Hyde-Weldon Conscience Protection Amendment was needed because current law had been misinterpreted to protect only individual physicians and training programs, leaving hospitals, health plans, nurses, and other health care participants without protection.
"This Amendment simply clarifies what should be obvious," Ruse said. "Legal protection for 'health care entities' should include the full range of participants who provide health care – no one who provides health care should be forced to participate in abortion."
"The opposition of abortion activists to this Amendment is telling," said Ruse. "The champions of 'choice' worked to deny the choice of health care providers to choose not to perform abortion. Here's more evidence that 'pro-choice' really does mean 'pro-abortion.'"