The American Civil Liberties Union and its “pro-choice” allies want to force all hospitals in the country to perform abortions. They are claiming that a bill being debated in the U.S. House this week should be defeated or amended simply because it shores up existing federal conscience protections.
HR 3 would codify a federal law that has existed temporarily for many years. It prohibits government entities from discriminating against health providers because they object to abortion. Abortion advocates are outrageously claiming that an “emergency exception” provision is needed to require maternity health providers to perform abortions that are supposedly medically necessary.
Such assertions are nothing more than an attempt to compel people to cooperate in all abortions. In effect, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wants to force women to have their babies delivered by abortionists by forcing all pro-life health providers out of the medical field.
Hype about “emergency” abortions hides the fact that the ACLU and its allies believe that all abortions are medically needed. They openly contend that abortion is safer than childbirth, as reaffirmed in a recent report from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in the U.K.
These special interest groups want to trump conscience laws, force providers to assist abortion, and authorize abortionists to decide that a medical “need” exists in nearly all abortions.
The State of California actually admitted this in federal court a few years ago. It challenged the Weldon Amendment—the conscience protection that HR 3 would essentially codify if passed. On Jan. 25, 2005, California contended that under state law it can take “disciplinary action against health care professionals who refuse to provide abortion.” But the state defined “emergency situations” as including anything the state believes is necessary to protect the “health of a woman,” meaning all abortions.
Anti-conscience advocates can cite no example—zero—in which a woman did not get the care she needed because of federal conscience statutes. Such laws protecting pro-life hospitals and doctors, and containing no Trojan Horse “emergency” loophole, have existed for decades.
In 1973, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D.-Mass.) enthusiastically spoke in favor of Federal Statute 42 U.S.C. § 300a-7, which prohibits forcing health providers to assist abortions and contains no exceptions at all. On the Senate floor, Kennedy supported the amendment in order “to give full protection to the religious freedom of physicians and others.”
Such laws have not hurt women. On the contrary, countries that protect preborn children and conscience are the safest places in the world for pregnant women. World Health Organization statistics show that Chile possesses the lowest maternal mortality ratio in Latin and South America, and Ireland has the lowest ratio in the world.
U.S. laws that govern emergency treatment don’t require providers to perform abortions. In fact, they have long provided that hospitals can and must treat women and their preborn children both as patients, and need not perform procedures they consider inappropriate.
In March, the Catholic Health Association wrote to U.S. House members expressing its longtime support for federal laws prohibiting the government from discriminating against hospitals and other providers because they object to being involved in abortion.
Even the Obama administration, while taking steps to undermine conscience rights, recently claimed that “[e]nforcement of the statutory conscience protections,” including the Weldon Amendment that HR 3 would codify, “will be conducted by staff of the Department” of Health and Human Services. So, in opposing such a conscience protection, the ACLU and its pro-abortion allies are even to the left of the Obama administration.
Abortion is not good medicine for women with health complications. Pro-life hospitals can and do offer care that tries to save both the mother and preborn child rather than ending the child’s life directly by abortion.
Conscience laws give patients true choice, letting them choose emergency and non-emergency care from health providers whom they can trust unconditionally to value their lives and the lives of their families. Patients should not be deprived of those choices by the ACLU’s call to add hyped-up loopholes to conscience laws.