By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 2, 2009 ( – President Obama is facing heavy criticism from pro-life politicians and activists for setting to work dismantling the Bush era federal regulations that uphold doctors’ conscience rights.

The Health and Human Services (HHS) Department Friday confirmed that the president has begun the process of repealing the regulations that had been passed by the Bush administration and that went into effect Jan. 20.  The regulations enforce pre-existing federal law that protects healthcare workers’ right to conscientiously refuse implementation of or involvement in abortions, including dispensation of the abortifacient morning-after pill.

Representative Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), Chairman of Republican House Policy Committee, issued a statement Sunday, saying, “The administration’s attack on pro-life Americans’ right of conscience endangers every Americans’ right of conscience.”

Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), co-chairman of the House Pro-life Caucus, denounced Obama’s plans Friday.

“The nation is under siege by pro-abortion radicals who are attacking the fundamental right of conscience, and are attempting to impose their will through the Obama administration,” said Smith.  “It is ironic that they like to be called pro-choice, instead of pro-abortion, but that their preference for ‘choice’ refers only to people who support the killing of unborn children.”

“Women deserve to have the option to choose doctors who reflect their views on the sanctity of human life,” Smith observed. “They will lose that freedom if pro-life health care professionals are driven from the medical field.”

“Without long-standing ‘conscience protection’ the extremist abortion lobby will eventually turn every ob-gyn into an abortionist.”

Smith cited the “Ethics Opinion” of the American College of Obsetricians and Gynecologists as an example of such extremism. The “Opinion” called on all ob-gyns to be required to make abortion referrals, and relocate near an abortionist if they do not themselves provide abortions. 

“Any pretense of ‘moderation’ on life issues was long ago dispensed with,” said Fr. Tom Euteneuer, president of Human Life International, about the Obama administration.  “With the rescinding of the Mexico City Policy, the appointment of dozens of radical anti-life cabinet members and staff, the enormous increase in funding for contraception and irresponsible sex advocacy, and now these grave insults to human life and dignity …  one shudders to think what could be next.

“It’s as if the president and Congress are trying to outdo each other for the dishonor of who can forward the most extreme anti-life agenda.”

Catholic League president Bill Donohue lamented the attack against regulations protecting doctors’ conscience rights, in particular Catholic doctors, who have a moral obligation to oppose abortion.

“No one in the health care field should ever be compelled by law to perform or assist in a procedure that violates his or her conscience,” said Donohue.  “This should be an elementary right, yet there are those who want to trespass on it.

“This would be another step in the wrong direction for an administration which is promoting abortion by overturning the Mexico City Policy, promising to support the United Nations Population Fund and considering the nomination of radical abortion rights supporter Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to be the Secretary of HHS. This action would be the most offensive since it compromises the rights of Catholics to act according to their conscience.

“It is imperative that President Obama not rescind this morally critical regulation,” said Donohue.


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