Yesterday Cardinal Francis George, the president of the U.S. Bishops' Conference, released a statement commending President Barack Obama’s promise to “honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion.”
Cardinal George expressed his gratitude on Friday afternoon for the President’s comments on the importance of conscience clauses which were made May 17 as he spoke to graduates of the University of Notre Dame.
In his address Obama said: “Let's honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded not only in sound science, but also in clear ethics…”
In his statement, Cardinal George explained that laws have protected the conscience rights of health care works since 1973. “These laws should be fully implemented and enforced,” he continued. “Caring health professionals and institutions should know that their deeply held religious or moral convictions will be respected as they exercise their right to serve patients in need.”
Looking specifically at Catholic health professionals, the cardinal noted that taking steps to protect their “conscience rights will strengthen our health care system and enhance many patients’ access to necessary life-affirming care.”
He added: “A government that wants to reduce the tragic number of abortions in our society will also work to ensure that no one is forced to support or participate in abortion, whether through directly providing or referring for abortions or being forced to subsidize them with their tax dollars.”
The prelate closed his statement saying that he looks forward to working with the President and his Administration to ensure conscience protection.
An April poll conducted on behalf of the Christian Medical Association found that nearly 87% of Americans support conscience protections for health care providers.
The Department of Health and Human Services, headed by Kathleen Sebelius, is currently considering changes to regulations implemented by the Bush administration.