Congressmen Challenge Obama to Follow Through on Notre Dame Statement, Stop Efforts to Repeal Consci

By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 20, 2009 ( - During his commencement address at Notre Dame on Sunday, President Obama said he was in favor of what he termed a "sensible conscience clause" as well as a reduction in abortions. In response two U.S. congressmen yesterday held a press conference and sent a letter to President Obama calling on him to publicly forgo his efforts to rescind the Bush era conscience protection regulation.

The Obama administration in February began the process of repealing a conscience regulation instituted by the Department of Health and Human Services under President Bush late last year. The measure had been stridently opposed by pro-abortion extremists. The regulation enforces existing conscience protection laws, which ensure medical professionals cannot be denied employment if they refuse to participate in activities to which they have moral or religious objection, such as abortion. 

In the letter to Obama, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) write: "You indicated that you wanted to ‘honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion.’ 

"Given our agreement in regard to a conscience clause, we respectfully request that you put an end to your Administration’s review of the Bush Administration rule that enforces existing conscience protection laws and completely forgo the rescinding of this rule."

The congressmen also urged Obama "to commit to defending conscience protections in future rulemaking that affects both individual and institutional health care providers."

"We should reduce the number of abortions by continuing the restrictions on abortion funding," said the letter.  "We urge you to use all the tools at your disposable to keep conscience protections in place and reduce the number of abortions in the United States." 

"If this Administration wants to be the Administration of choice, than all people need to have their choices protected," Congressman Sensenbrenner said. 

"The religious and moral views of health care workers should be respected.  Workers should have the right to refuse to participate in an abortion procedure without the fear of losing their job or being discriminated against."

"We’re simply asking President Obama to ensure that his deeds match his words," said Rep. Chris Smith, co-chair of the House Pro-Life Caucus.

"This past weekend President Obama said that he believes we should ‘honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion," Smith noted.  "To make that happen, Mr. President, simply stop all your efforts, and those of your Administration, to rescind the current conscience regulations that protect the fundamental right to prolife healthcare workers - and Catholic Hospitals - to refuse to participate in procedures that they find morally reprehensible.

"Protecting conscience is the truly pro-choice position and respects the diversity of opinion in our society as well as the sanctity of life."

See related coverage:

Pro-Life Leaders Respond to Obama’s Plan to Revoke Conscience Regulations

New Poll Reveals Obama’s Plan To Scrap Conscience Protection Extremely Unpopular

Lawsuit Launched to Quash Bush Administration’s Freedom of Conscience Regulation

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