WASHINGTON—Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan and Archbishop William E. Lori are urging the U.S. House of Representatives to support the Conscience Protection Act of 2016 (HR 4828).
Cardinal Dolan is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Archbishop Lori is chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.
The Conscience Protection Act, they wrote on March 31, 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.”
HR 4828 has a “modest scope,” they noted. “While existing federal laws already protect conscientious objection to abortion in theory, this protection has not proved effective in practice. The Conscience Protection Act will address the deficiencies that block effective enforcement of existing laws, 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 Conscience Protection 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 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Image from USCCB: Conscience Protection video