July 1, 2002
Dear Member of Congress:
I am writing to urge you to support and cosponsor H.R. 4691, the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA), which has been introduced by Congressman Michael Bilirakis (R-FL).
Passage of ANDA is urgently needed to protect health care providers. This bill reaffirms a basic principle: no health care provider should be forced to perform or participate in abortions.
In 1996 Congress enacted 42 U.S.C. §238n, to provide such protection. This law responded to a threat by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) that it would require ob./gyn. residency programs to provide abortions and abortion training. A bipartisan effort succeeded in passing a law to prohibit discrimination against health care entities because they decline to train in, perform, or arrange for abortions. However, some have read the law narrowly, to protect only residents and residency programs and only in the training context.
ANDA simply clarifies what should be obvious—that the term "health care entity" in existing law includes the full range of participants involved in providing health care, such as health care professionals, health plans, hospitals and other health facilities. ANDA also strengthens existing law by providing that health care entities should not be forced by government to pay for abortions.
There is a coordinated national effort to force health care providers to participate in abortions. In Alaska, the state supreme court has ruled that some community hospitals must perform abortions against their will. An HMO in New York is under increasing pressure to make abortion referrals. In Connecticut a certificate of need was denied to a proposed outpatient surgical center that would have declined to perform abortions, after abortion activists intervened in the proceedings. A hospital merger in New Hampshire was dismantled after abortion activists intervened with the state attorney general. In Florida, the City Council of St. Petersburg forced a private hospital to leave a non-profit consortium because the consortium followed a pro-life ethical policy. ANDA will protect health care providers like these and counteract efforts to make all providers perform abortions.
Please consider supporting this important effort to protect health care providers from abortion-related discrimination.