WASHINGTON, December 12, 2003 ( – On December 8, Congressman Mike Bilirakis (R-FL) re-introduced the bipartisan Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA), H.R. 3664, in the House of Representatives. The bill had previously passed the House in 2002. Senate Bill S. 1397, introduced by Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH), also enjoys bipartisan sponsorship. The legislation would prohibit governmental discrimination against health care providers who decline to be involved in abortion.

Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq., Director of Planning and Information for the USCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, applauded the legislation and urged its swift passage saying, “Congress has another opportunity to protect health care providers who do not want to participate in abortions . . . No one should be forced into the practice of abortion.”

The legislation responds to the coordinated effort to force health care providers from Alaska to New York—hospitals, insurance providers, and outpatient clinics—to provide, pay for, and make referrals for abortion.  “Forced abortion participation has no place in a country that respects the right of conscience for all,” Ms. Ruse said.  Current federal law already protects “health care entities” from having to perform or provide for abortions, but it has been interpreted to protect only individual physicians and training programs, leaving hospitals, health plans, nurses, and other health care participants without protection.

“The irony here cannot be ignored: The same abortion advocates who promote a ‘right to choose’ deny the right of health care providers to choose not to perform abortion,” Ms. Ruse noted. “They tell us, ‘if you don’t like abortion, don’t have one.’ Pro-life health providers must be able to say: ‘we don’t like abortion, so don’t force us to perform them.’ ”  See fact sheets on ANDA: