By Dave Andrusko
An op-ed that ran this week in USA Today was an example of ecumenism at its best.
Appearing under the headline, “To be really pro-choice, you must protect each doctor’s choice to not perform abortions,” Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, eloquently made the case for passage of the “Conscience Protection Act of 2017.” Current federal law does not sufficiently protect the conscience rights of health care professionals and others.
Were such a law to have passed during the two terms of President Obama, we could have rested assured that he couldn’t veto it fast enough. Protecting the right of conscience was never big on the agenda of this hardcore pro-abortionist. But now pro-life Donald Trump is President.
The Conscience Protection Act of 2017 would uphold the conscience rights of health care providers, religious charities, and churches who are being forced to participate in or provide coverage for abortions. This week pro-life members of the House and Senate held a press conference where we learned stories of nurses who have been forced, against their religious beliefs, to participate in abortions. Their accounts were shocking.
As representatives of the nation’s two largest religious denominations, Cardinal Dolan, of the Archdiocese of New York City and the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Dr. Moore teamed up to warn of the threats to religious liberties and to argue that there ought to be consensus that respects individual conscience on the abortion issue.
[We] believe that the freedom to live by one’s deepest beliefs, without being forced by government to act against those beliefs, is our first freedom and a founding value of our nation. That being the case, we find it hard to imagine how those who call themselves “pro-choice” could deny another the choice of following his or her conscience.
What has appalled us in recent years is an increasing and fierce attack on conscience rights. The movement that once called itself “pro-choice” has campaigned to force doctors, nurses, and hospitals to participate in abortion or leave the health care system — and to force all Americans to pay for abortions if they want any health coverage. This is a grave threat to freedom of conscience. Forcing those who decline to participate in abortion — including medical professionals and health care entities — out of the marketplace helps no one and harms the common good.
Put another way
Even those who disagree with us on abortion should see that respecting the right to choose not to be involved in abortion is part of being “pro-choice.”
They end their op-ed by reiterating their argument that “on one of our most divisive issues”—abortion—
“we have an opportunity to unite across political, religious and regional divides to agree that those who respect the life of the unborn child have a right to act on that belief, that we are not second-class citizens. We hope members of Congress of both parties will take up this challenge and enact the Conscience Protection Act.