New bill permits health professionals to refuse providing abortion-related services


Pro-life advocates are claiming another victory after Congress passed a $388-billion spending bill Nov. 20 that includes a provision, which allows health care providers to refuse to offer abortion-related services.

The Hyde-Weldon anti-discrimination amendment, passed by Congress as part of a larger bill in a rare Saturday session, makes it easier for health care professionals, hospitals, HMOs, and health insurance plans to refuse to perform abortions, pay for abortions, provide coverage for abortions or make abortion referrals.

Also known as the federal refusal clause, the amendment states that state and local governments that receive federal funds may not discriminate against such health care providers.

Douglas Johnson, legislative director for National Right to Life, praised the Bush administration for passing the law "which will prevent state and local government officials from compelling health care providers to participate in killing unborn children," he told

This is the third pro-life legislation the Bush administration has passed in the last year, including the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act and the Unborn Victims of Violence Act.

The House approved the spending bill 344-51, and the Senate voted 65-30 in favor. The pro-life amendment to that bill was approved last summer by the House Appropriations Committee and the full House, with support from the White House.

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