In sharp rebuke to Obama Administration, U.S. House votes to protect health care providers from state-mandated abortion

By Dave Andrusko

conscienceprotectiondianeblackreLast night, National Right to Life “commended Republican leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives for winning passage of a bill to protect health care providers from the growing threat of state-government attempts to coerce participation in abortion.” The near straight party line vote–virtually all Republicans voting for the Conscience Protection Act and virtually all Democrats against–was 245-182.

That 182 members of the House opposed a law that does no more thanend discrimination against people, plans, and providers who choose not to be involved in abortion speaks volumes about just how radically anti-life the Democratic Party has become.

“State agencies in California and New York are mandating insurance coverage of abortion, and the Obama Administration recently made it clear that it will not enforce federal laws that prohibit such mandates,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. “The Conscience Protection Act will allow direct access to the federal courts for the victims of coercive pro-abortion government policies.”

As explained by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), the bill passed by the House “says that the Federal Government or any state or local government that receives federal assistance may not penalize, retaliate against or otherwise discriminate against those who do not perform, refer for, pay for or otherwise participate in abortion. Additionally, the Conscience Protection Act protects providers from being forced to participate in abortion by providing a private right of action in the courts.”

Smith, co-chairman of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, added,

The Obama Administration’s refusal to enforce the civil right of conscience is not only unfair and unjustified—it grossly violates the rule of law. It makes a mockery of President Obama’s 2009 Notre Dame speech in which he said ‘Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion.’ But he has not.

In an unconscionable abuse of power, for almost two years the state of California has forced all insurance plans under its purview—and the people and institutions that pay the premiums—to subsidize abortion on demand.

The Weldon federal conscience law authored by Congressman Dave Weldon of Florida and continuously in effect for over a decade—makes it explicit and comprehensively clear that California’s action is illegal.

Enforcement however is vested in the HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR) and that’s the Achilles heel that needs to be fixed —and will be fixed by the Conscience Protection Act.”

The House vote today is about protecting those who have been ordered to violate their deeply held convictions and pay for, or participate in, abortion—the killing of unborn children by hideous dismemberment procedures, toxic compounds or chemical poisoning.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca.) offered further context.

In 2014, the California Department of Managed Health Care issued a mandate that health insurance plans include coverage for abortions. The problem is, many insurance providers and employers—like churches, religious schools, and institutions run by pro-life people—not only don’t want to pay for abortion in health insurance plans, but doing so goes against what they think is right.

You don’t have to agree with these pro-life Californians to empathize. We wouldn’t force non-smokers to buy cigarettes—for themselves or others. We wouldn’t force vegetarians to buy meat.

And we shouldn’t force those who oppose abortion to pay for abortions.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wi.)voiced passionate support for protecting the right of conscience and for religious freedom.

… I think we can all agree, that in this country, no one should be forced to perform an abortion. I know we disagree about when life begins. I know we disagree about what government should do about it. And however strongly I hold my beliefs, I know my friends on the other side feel just as strongly. I respect those disagreements.

But whoever you are–whatever you believe–I think this is one thing we can all agree on: No one should be forced to violate their conscience–least of all by the federal government. That’s all this bill says. The federal government–or anyone who receives taxpayer dollars–cannot discriminate against health care providers who do not perform abortions. And if they do discriminate, this bill says the victims will have two avenues of relief: Either, file a complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services. Or, file a civil suit in court. That’s all this bill does.

There is nothing more fulfilling than to live out our faith. We want all people–of all faiths–to live freely in our country. But we can live out our faith only if our government respects our faith. And that’s why we need to pass this bill.”

The other two top-ranking Republican House leaders also spoke in support of the bill–Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-Wa.)–along with many other pro-life members of the House.