Bishops' official applauds Abortion Non-Discrimination Act

.- A new act, which does not discriminate against health-care professionals who choose not to perform an abortion, received praise from an official of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

This legislation responds to the co-ordinated effort to force health-care providers – hospitals, insurance providers, and outpatient clinics – to provide, pay for, and make referrals for abortion.

"Forced abortion participation has no place in a country that respects the right of conscience for all," said Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq., the director of planning and Information for the USCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. "Congress has another opportunity to protect health-care providers who do not want to participate in abortions.”

On Dec. 8, Congressman Mike Bilirakis (R-FL) re-introduced the bipartisan Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA) in the House of Representatives, H.R. 3664. The bill had previously passed the House in 2002. Senate bill S. 1397, introduced by Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH), also enjoys bipartisan sponsorship. This legislation would prohibit governmental discrimination against health-care providers, who decline to be involved in abortion.

Current federal law already protects "health-care entities" from having to perform or provide for abortions, but it has been interpreted to protect only individual physicians and training programs, leaving hospitals, health plans, nurses, and other health-care participants without protection.

"ANDA simply clarifies what should be obvious," Ruse stated. "Legal protection for 'health-care entities' includes the full range of participants who provide health care. No one who provides health care should be forced to participate in abortion.

"The irony here cannot be ignored: The same abortion advocates, who promote a 'right to choose', deny the right of health-care providers to choose not to perform abortion," Ruse noted. "They tell us: ‘If you don't like abortion, don't have one.' Pro-life health providers must be able to say: 'We don't like abortion, so don't force us to perform them.'

"We urge Congress to act swiftly in the New Year to pass this common-sense protection for the rights of conscience," she said.

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