WASHINGTON, Feb. 18, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Family Research Council condemned today's decision by the Obama administration to eliminate key provisions of a Bush administration regulation that enforced laws protecting the conscience rights of medical professionals who oppose abortion.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins made the following comments:
"Today's erosion of conscience protections for medical professionals is a blow both to medicine and the right to practice one's deeply-held convictions. I am troubled that the Obama administration has issued a final rule that strikes key sections of 2008 conscience regulations and weakens their enforcement substantially. The President chose to reject the views of the vast majority of people – close to two hundred thousand – who provided comment in 2009 opposing any attempt to rescind the conscience regulations.
"It's a sad fact that discrimination against health care workers who object to participating in abortion is a continuing threat from both federally-funded organizations and the government. The previous conscience regulations were implemented to enforce the conscience laws passed over the last 35 years, and they required that federally-funded entities certify their compliance with three conscience laws. Removing the certification requirement will make enforcement harder, not easier.
"The rule also removes the definitions that ensured protections were maintained for individuals working in federally-funded organizations. Rather than provide greater clarity to the law's protections for those who object to 'assisting in the performance' of abortion, the removal of these definitions creates greater ambiguity and will make enforcement more difficult.
"While we support the Office of Civil Rights investigating claims of discrimination and allowing people to file such complaints, this is insufficient to ensure such discrimination does not take place. Although the new regulations may offer an imaginary fig-leaf of political cover on conscience rights, they severely limit the enforcement provision in the previous conscience regulations.
"We therefore urge the U.S. Congress to enact conscience protections by passing Dr. John Fleming's (R-LA) Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 361), as well as Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Dan Lipinski's (D-IL) 'No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act' (H.R. 3) and Rep. Joe Pitt's (R-PN) 'Protect Life Act' (H.R. 358). Americans overwhelmingly believe that conscience rights are legitimate and must be protected," Perkins concluded.
SOURCE Family Research Council