Washington, D.C. — Several members of Congress have introduced a bill to protect religious business owners from Obamacare’s abortion pill mandate and to uphold the conscience rights of those in the medical field.
Representatives Diane Black, Jeff Fortenberry and John Fleming introduced the bill last week with the support of 50 bipartisan co-sponsors.
“We have come together to act to protect Americans’ most basic rights – our rights of conscience and religious freedom. The Health Care Conscience Rights Act simply restores the basic rights in health care that were widely accepted before the implementation of the new health care law,” explained Fortenberry in a written statement. “As the president said at last year’s National Prayer Breakfast, we cannot leave our values at the door. This legislation will protect the time-honored tradition of respecting conscience rights in health care.”
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska
Representative Fleming, a medical doctor from Louisiana, agreed.
“Neither non-profit nor for-profit businesses, universities or other health care providers should be required to cover drugs that can lead to the destruction of human life,” he said. “This legislation protects the First Amendment rights of the American health care community by allowing them to refuse to participate in procedures that violate their deeply held beliefs.”
As previously reported, a number of businesses across the country have been filing suit against Obamacare’s abortion pill mandate, which exempts churches and explicitly religious non-profit organizations, but requires that secular businesses provide insurance coverage for what many believe are abortion-inducing drugs.
One of the most visible lawsuits involves the popular evangelical-owned craft chain Hobby Lobby, which is currently arguing its case in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Its requests for an injunction against the mandate have been denied at every level, including in the U.S. Supreme Court, which sent the company’s case back to the 10th Circuit for deliberation.
However, a number of other businesses have been winning the fight — as far as the attainment of injunctions is concerned. Among those that have obtained reprieve include the Bible publisher Tyndale House, Dominos Farms Corporation — owned by the founder of Domino’s Pizza — and Hercules Industries of Colorado.
Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana
In addition to protecting businesses from Obamacare’s abortion pill mandate, the law also preserves the right of conscience for those in the medical field who refuse to perform abortions.
“As a family physician who has treated thousands of patients during more than 30 years of practicing medicine, the integrity of the doctor-patient relationship is invaluable,” Fleming said. “Health care workers are dedicated to caring for their patients, and the religious freedom of these health care workers, and providers alike, must be protected. No individual should be forced or coerced to perform an abortion.”
During a recent press conference announcing the introduction of the bill, several notable citizens who backed the move were present to voice their support. Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo, a New York nurse who sued Mt. Sinai Medical Center for forcing her to assist with an abortion, Dr. Susan Elliott, director and professor at Biola University Nursing Department and Christine Ketterhagen, co-owner of Hercules Industries, Inc. were among those who spoke.
Evangelical groups nationwide are also applauding the measure, and are urging Congress to ensure its passage.
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