Conscience isn’t a disposable fashion accessory


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently proposed regulations to protect the conscience rights of health care professionals and institutions.

These protections are needed, according the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, because of “growing hostility on the part of some professional organizations and advocacy groups to rights of conscience in health care.”

In recent years, many state and local governments have pressured health care professionals and institutions to provide abortion on demand despite conscientious objection. These proposed regulations, implementing three laws already passed by Congress, would guarantee that health care professionals and institutions would not be forced to choose between leaving the medical profession or violating their conscience.

These new regulations drew the praise of the USCCB and many pro-life groups. But they also drew the ire of pro-abortion advocacy groups and some members of Congress. In fact, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, published an op-ed in the New York Times suggesting that “basic, quality care for millions of women is at stake.” This outrageous claim ignores the fact that the nation has been operating under essentially the same laws for 35 years. Congress enacted several antidiscrimination laws since the 1970s that affirm the right of health care providers to not be required to perform or recommend services they find morally objectionable. The proposed HHS regulations are an attempt to increase awareness of the law but in no way expand it.

Opposition to the proposed regulations by Senator Clinton and her allies in Planned Parenthood, the leading provider of abortion on demand in the nation, is nothing more than a political scare tactic. What they truly oppose and fear is that many doctors and nurses, especially Catholic health care providers, will invoke their right to respect human life. Apparently, for Senator Clinton and her allies in the Democratic Congress and among the pro-abortion lobbyists, the Bush Administration’s attempt to acknowledge and inform doctors, nurses and other health care providers that they indeed have a right to exercise their conscientious objection to the grave evil of abortion is something to fear.

It is Catholic health care providers and others who morally oppose the evil of abortion who should fear Senator Clinton and her minions in Planned Parenthood as they attempt to violate their freedom of conscience and further drive morality out of medicine.

And, you have to ask: What kind of person would be comfortable demanding – even legislating – that someone act against their own conscience?

Perhaps someone who has no conscience of their own...