HomeoldWhy defeating S.2578 is vitally important to pro-lifers

Why defeating S.2578 is vitally important to pro-lifers

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In less than a nanosecond, pro-abortion Senate Democrats and their legion of media allies were able to distort the events that transpired yesterday on what sponsors euphemistically labeled the “Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act” (S. 2578).

National Right to Life provided a clear explanation of the significance of the events that transpired when S. 2578 failed to receive the 60 votes necessary to invoke cloture in the Senate, and why this was of particular importance to those who advocate for a single issue, namely the protection of human life.

It was to be expected that proponents would take aim at religious freedom and conscience rights. As NRLC President Carol Tobias explained in testimony on another bill on Tuesday, what is properly called “conscience protection” is to pro-abortion advocacy groups nothing more than “refusal clauses.” Their opposition to the right of conscience is pervasive and profound. They are displeased that by allowing medical providers to decline to collaborate in the killing of innocent members of the human family, it might result in a reduction in access to abortion.

In addition to respecting conscience rights, what is the significance of S. 2578 to National Right to Life? It addresses a concern that NRLC has consistently highlighted throughout the debate surrounding the potential scope of the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby centered on the question of whether the HHS mandate requiring coverage of contraceptives as a “preventative service” was constitutional.

It is possible that in the future, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) may choose to add the abortion pill RU-486, or even elective abortion, including late abortions, to the list of mandated “preventive services”. One possible bulwark against this would be the “Religious Freedom and Restoration Act” (RFRA) enacted by Congress in 1993, which was discussed extensively by the Supreme Court in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.

S. 2578 not only singles out RFRA, but also overrides “any other provision of Federal law” that protects the rights of conscience regarding health coverage mandates. Among the federal provisions that could be superseded by S. 2578 is the Hyde-Weldon Amendment, signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2004, which protects health care providers who refuse to provide, pay for, provide coverage, or refer for abortion.

It should be noted that there would be no legal impediment to HHS requiring coverage for, for instance, doctor-prescribed suicide or any other services it deems to be “preventive.”
Those in favor of the bill argue that S. 2578 was/is a necessary response to last month’s Supreme Court decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. At the time, National Right to Life clarified that while the 5-4 decision represented a modest victory for religious conscience rights, it did not address the fundamental abortion-expanding issues created by Obamacare. (See “Narrow Sureme Court decision in Hobby Lobby underscores deeper abortion-expanding aspects of Obamacare”).

This encompasses not only the aforementioned expansive authority granted to HHS by the Obamacare law to define “preventive services,” but also the significant abortion-expanding provisions of Obamacare, including the substantial tax subsidies that will assist millions of Americans in purchasing health plans that cover elective abortion. These were not even issues in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. Finally, let me conclude with a necessary reform, as explained by NRLC this morning:

“Only comprehensive legislative reform can cure the multiple abortion-expanding components of Obamacare – and such reform can only be accomplished with new leadership in the U.S. Senate and in the White House.

“There is currently legislation in the Congress – the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (S. 1204 and H.R. 940) – that provides badly needed conscience protections for Americans who face an increasingly frequent use of coercive means – governmental and other – to compel participation in providing abortion and other procedures regardless of religious and moral objections. The bill would amend Obamacare to prevent the imposition of regulatory mandates that violate the religious or moral convictions of those who purchase or provide health insurance. The bill would also prevent any level of government from discriminating against health care providers, including doctors, nurses, hospitals, and insurers, who decline to participate in abortions. In addition, it would empower victims to seek relief in court for violations of the federal conscience laws.”


Daniel Miller is responsible for nearly all of National Right to Life News' political writing.

With the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, Daniel Miller developed a deep obsession with U.S. politics that has never let go of the political scientist. Whether it's the election of Joe Biden, the midterm elections in Congress, the abortion rights debate in the Supreme Court or the mudslinging in the primaries - Daniel Miller is happy to stay up late for you.

Daniel was born and raised in New York. After living in China, working for a news agency and another stint at a major news network, he now lives in Arizona with his two daughters.

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