WASHINGTON (December 9, 2004)– Yesterday President Bush signed into law a federal spending bill which includes a provision prohibiting discrimination against hospitals and health care providers who choose not to provide or participate in abortions. The provision is known as the "Hyde-Weldon Conscience Protection Amendment," sponsored by Reps. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) and Dave Weldon (R-Fl.).
"We applaud President Bush's recognition that hospitals and other health care providers 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."
Federal law already protected "health care entities" from having to perform or provide for abortions, but that law had been misinterpreted to protect only residency training programs. The Hyde-Weldon Amendment was needed so that individual physicians, hospitals, health plans, nurses, and other health care participants who choose not to do abortions would also be protected.
The USCCB spokesperson was not surprised that abortion activists have already threatened legal action against the conscience protection provision. "When abortion activists fail to achieve a goal the democratic way, as they so often do, they turn to the courts to achieve it the undemocratic way," she said. "The irony here is that the champions of 'choice' say doctors should have no choice when it comes to abortion. But no one should be forced to participate in abortion."