WASHINGTON — A Tennessee Congresswoman is seeking to have a federal “Conscience Protection Act” included in this month’s must-pass omnibus bill, as she believes the time is now to provide protections for those in the medical field who are opposed to providing or assisting with abortions.
Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., is the author of H.R. 644, a bill that was similarly presented in 2016 with the support of dozens of co-sponsors, but opposed by the Obama administration.
“Notwithstanding any other law, the federal government, and any State or local government that receives federal financial assistance, may not penalize, retaliate against, or otherwise discriminate against a health care provider on the basis that the provider does not—(1) perform, refer for, pay for, or otherwise participate in abortion; (2) provide or sponsor abortion coverage; or (3) facilitate or make arrangements for any of the activities specified in this subsection,” the bill reads in part.
Black, a nurse herself, told reporters that she has spoken with a number of nurses who have run into conflicts in regard to their convictions about assisting with an abortion. She stated that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Obama administration said that there was nothing that could be done.
“They sought assistance through HHS, and we actually sat with the former HHS secretary and they adamantly denied there was anything they could do,” Black told Breitbart. “They said the Weldon Amendment protected these folks.”
“We’ve shown the Weldon Amendment does not take care of this issue,” she said. “And under the previous administration, when these nurses have been let go, and lost their jobs, and lost their income, they were denied assistance by HHS.”
Black was present during an event on Capitol Hill in November where a number of health care professionals shared their stories, including Cathy DeCarlo, who told of the trauma she experienced at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York when she was forced to participate in an abortion.
“I’ll never forget that day as I watched in horror as the doctor dismembered and removed the baby’s bloody limbs and I had to account for all the pieces,” DeCarlo, a Roman Catholic, stated, according to Town Hall. “I still have nightmares about that day.”
“My supervisor informed me that I would have to assist with the abortion. I reminded her in tears about the hospital’s legal obligation to never force me to participate in an abortion but to always find a substitute nurse but she refused,” she said. “My supervisor insisted that I had to do the abortion and that if I didn’t assist I would be charged with insubordination and abandoning my patient. My nursing career and ability to care for patients and provide for my family would be over.”
Black also recently wrote an op-ed with Sandra Rojas, who as previously reported, moved on from her nursing job at Illinois’ Winnebago County Health Department in 2015 after she was informed under new leadership that nurses would now be required to be trained in referring women for abortions, and helping them obtain Plan B.
Rojas has since filed both a lawsuit and complaint with HHS.
On Thursday, Black sent a letter, signed by 107 members of Congress, to Speaker Paul Ryan and majority leaders Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise to ask that they support the insertion of the Conscience Protection Act in this month’s spending bill, which must pass by March 23 to keep the government open.
“Such discrimination is illegal under existing conscience laws. But evidently, current law is not sufficient,” she wrote. “We must do everything in our power to see this compassionate, reasonable and modest bill become law so that millions of Americans who believe, as we do, in the sanctity of every life are able to abide by those beliefs without having them trampled upon by their own government.”