USCCB News Release
February 27, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Bishops' Pro-Life Official "Gravely Concerned" Over Threat to HHS Conscience Protection Regulation
WASHINGTON—Deirdre McQuade, spokesperson on abortion and related issues at the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops, commented today on reports that the Obama administration is moving to rescind a federal regulation that implements longstanding federal statutes protecting conscience rights in the health care profession.
"We are gravely concerned over today's news that the Obama administration may rescind the current federal regulation protecting the conscience rights of health care providers," McQuade said. "Efforts to nullify or weaken any conscience protection will undermine our national heritage of diversity and religious freedom, reduce patients' access to life-affirming health care, and endanger the national consensus required to enact much-needed health care reform."
"The Administration says it will open a new 30-day comment period so Americans may voice their concerns. We encourage participation in this process by all committed to the sanctity of human life, the freedom of conscience, and the ethical integrity of our healing professions," she added.
The USCCB issued a statement last August welcoming the proposed regulation when it was first released for public comment by the Bush administration (www.usccb.org/comm/archives/2008/08-118.shtml). Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, chair of the bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities, also wrote to Congress urging respect for conscience protection measures (www.usccb.org/prolife/rigali-conscience071808.pdf). Formal comments on the proposal were later submitted by the USCCB Office of General Counsel (www.usccb.org/ogc/ruleind.shtml), and the Conference welcomed issuance of the final rule in December (www.usccb.org/comm/archives/2008/08-203.shtml).