WASHINGTON, July 7, 2011 ( – The Christian Medical Association (CMA) yesterday sent to President Obama a letter on behalf of over 60,000 individuals who signed a petition urging the President to uphold and enforce conscience rights in health care.

The group says the issue is especially important for faith-based physicians, many of whom say they will leave medicine if forced to compromise their life-affirming ethical convictions.

In a letter to President Obama, CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens criticized the president for having “gutted” the only federal regulation protecting health care conscience rights, enacted at the end of the previous administration.

“That decision leaves many healthcare professionals, particularly in the faith-based community, wide open to discrimination,” wrote the family physician.

Reinstating such regulations, he said, would also serve “to protect healthcare access for the millions of patients who depend upon their often charitable services.”

A nationwide poll commissioned in 2009 by the CMA-managed Freedom2Care coalition found that over 90 percent of faith-based physicians indicated they would leave medicine if barred from practicing according to their moral beliefs.

In addition, a recent survey conducted by The Polling Company found strong public support across partisan and ideological lines for the conscience protections in the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, CMA notes.

A total of 61,154 individuals signed a petition to President Obama through the Freedom2Care coalition.

The conscience petition campaign has expanded to include legislators, as Congress considers several conscience-protecting bills. Stevens urged “all life-affirming patients and healthcare professionals in America” to help the campaign by signing the petition.

In his letter, Dr. Stevens also called on the president to have his administration educate the healthcare community accurately about existing legal protections.

Stevens noted that the “broad legal protections afforded by the federal Church Amendment, part (d) should be widely promoted and consistently enforced: ‘No individual shall be required to perform or assist in the performance of any part of a health service program or research activity funded in whole or in part under a program administered by the Secretary of Health and Human Services if his performance or assistance in the performance of such part of such program or activity would be contrary to his religious beliefs or moral convictions.’”