U.S. Department of Health Backing Down on Controversial Freedom of Conscience Regulation



WASHINGTON, DC, August 8, 2008( - A U.S. Department Health and Human Services proposed regulation that would protect freedom of conscience for pro-life physicians and pharmacists will likely be rewritten to reflect pro-abortion demands.

A widely circulated draft of the HHS proposal would have defined abortion to include the birth control pill, thus protecting pro-life pharmacists from dispensing abortion-causing drugs like the pill.

The proposed regulation defined abortion as "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."

Upon release of the proposal, pro-abortion activists, including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, NARAL Pro-Choice America and drug companies that produce birth control collaborated in an organized lobbying campaign against the proposal.

Three weeks later Leavitt, who says he wants to protect conscience rights of physicians, is backing down: "An early draft of the regulations found its way into public circulation before it had reached my review," Leavitt said on his blog. "It contained words that lead some to conclude my intent is to deal with the subject of contraceptives, somehow defining them as abortion. Not true."

"Why is Secretary Mike Leavitt kowtowing to birth control companies and abortion activists?" asked Jen Catelli, American Life League director of media relations. "If he is seeking to protect conscience rights of those who want nothing to do with abortion, he needs to recognize that contraceptives can cause abortions."

"The truth is that life begins at creation, and anything that destroys that life is an abortion," Catelli said. "We hope Mr. Leavitt will have the courage to stand for truth against abortion advocates."

The final draft of the proposal has not yet been issued.

To contact the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
  Washington, D.C. 20201
  Telephone: 202-619-0257
  Toll Free: 1-877-696-6775

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