NewsTue Jul 22, 2008 - 12:15 pm EST
Pill Wars: Catholic Bishops and Senator Clinton Clash over Conscience Rights for Doctors
By Peter J. Smith
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 22, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The US Catholic Bishops are now entering the political fracas over a Bush Administration plan to protect the conscience rights of health care professionals that object to abortifacient contraception, crossing swords with Sen. Hillary Clinton and other abortion-supporters in the process.
"This issue provides self-described ‘pro-choice’ advocates with an opportunity to demonstrate their true convictions," stated Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee (USCCB) on Pro-Life Activities.
"Or is the ‘pro-choice’ label a misleading mask for an agenda of actively promoting and even imposing morally controversial procedures on those who conscientiously hold different views?"
Clinton and abortion advocates are apoplectic over a draft proposal from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that defines abortion to include "any of the various procedures - including the prescription, dispensing and administration of any drug or the performance of any procedure or any other action - that results in the termination of the life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation."
The proposed HHS regulations would ban individuals and entities receiving federal funds from discriminating against health care professionals and institutions that have moral or religious objections to abortion and abortifacient birth control.
Sen. Clinton along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and 104 Congressman have objected vociferously to the proposed HHS rules, saying health care professionals would then be free to refuse to dispense IUDs, the morning-after pill, emergency contraception, and other abortifacient forms of birth control.
"The draft regulation could have a disastrous effect upon access to safe and effective birth control for millions of women across the country," one protest letter states, adding the regulation would "threaten virtually any law or policy designed to protect women’s access to safe and effective birth control…by defining ‘abortion’ in a way that could sweep in many common forms of birth control."
Representing the USCCB, Rigali stated in a letter written to all members of the US Congress that abortion advocates are being mendacious in claiming that pro-life doctors and nurses - a group they have derided for years as "a tiny minority of religious zealots" - would devastate women’s access to abortion and contraception by having their conscience rights protected. The Philadelphia Archbishop added that even if that were the case, it would indicate that the medical community does not regard abortifacient services as essential to "basic" health care as abortion advocates have made it out to be.
"Patients with pro-life convictions, including women who require a physician’s care for themselves and their unborn children during pregnancy, deserve ‘access’ to health care professionals who do not have contempt for their religious and moral convictions or for the lives of their children," he added.
The proposed HHS regulations would ban individuals and entities receiving federal funds from discriminating against health care professionals and institutions that have moral or religious objections to abortion and abortifacient birth control. The HHS pointed to conscience violations by state laws (such as New York and Connecticut) that force abortifacient emergency contraception on Catholic hospitals or threaten the loss of funding as compelling reasons for a stronger federal regulation.
See related coverage by LifeSiteNews.com:
Planned Parenthood in Hysterics over Bush Memo Defining Abortifacient Contraception as Abortion
Bush Administration Seeks to Forbid Federal Aid Discrimination against Pro-Life Health Care Professionals