Senate Amendment to Protect Conscience Rights Defeated

Fri Apr 3, 2009 - 12:15 pm EST

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 3, 2009 ( - Yesterday an amendment introduced into the Senate by Sen. Tom Coburn to protect the conscience of patients and health care providers was defeated by a vote of 56-41.

The amendment was proposed in light of the Obama administration’s plans to rescind the rule, which was issued in December by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that protects the right of health care workers at federally-funded facilities to refuse to perform or be involved in medical procedures that violate their consciences.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life women’s group, said prior to the vote that, "This amendment is crucial in our fight to protect doctors and nurses around the country from being discriminated against for refusing to participate in abortions and other medical procedures that violate their conscience."
Catholic League president Bill Donohue commented on the failure of the amendment, saying, saying, "The failure of the administration and the Senate to protect freedom of conscience is an outrageous violation of human rights and a slap in the face to Catholics and other people of faith. No one in the health care field should ever be compelled by law to perform or assist in a procedure that violates his conscience. This should be an elementary right, yet there are those who want to trespass on it."
He concluded, "We implore all lawmakers to reconsider this issue with an eye toward restoring the conscience rights of health care workers."

While Obama has made clear his intention to revoke the conscience regulations put forward by the Bush administration, a 30-day public comment period on the plan is still ongoing. It will expire on April 9.

Comments may be submitted electronically on the Web site (enter 0991-AB49 in the search box).

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