WASHINGTON, DC - Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan and Archbishop William E. Lori - as chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, respectively - wrote to both Houses of the United States Congress on February 8, urging support for the Conscience Protection Act of 2017 (H.R. 644, S. 301).
The Conscience Protection Act, they wrote, is "essential legislation protecting the fundamental rights of health care providers...to ensure that those providing much-needed health care and health coverage can continue to do so without being forced by government to help destroy innocent unborn children."
"While existing federal laws already protect conscientious objection to abortion in theory, this protection has not proved effective in practice," the bishops noted, citing recent examples in which the federal government has refused to enforce these laws. "The Conscience Protection Act will address the deficiencies that block effective enforcement of existing laws," they said, "most notably by establishing a private right of action allowing victims of discrimination to defend their own rights in court."
Cardinal Dolan and Archbishop Lori recalled the Hippocratic oath's rejection of abortion in the profession of medicine, indicating that the Act will benefit not only Catholic medical professionals but "the great majority of ob/gyns [who] remain unwilling to perform abortions."
Finally, they explained that conscience protection facilitates access to life-affirming health care: "When government... mandates involvement in abortion as a condition for being allowed to provide life-affirming health care services, it not only undermines the widely acknowledged civil rights of health care providers but also limits access to good health care for American women and men."
The full text of their letter to Senate is posted online.
For more on the bishops' promotion of conscience rights, including a video about a nurse who was coerced to take part in a late-term abortion, visit here.