November 2, 2011 Print

Congressional Panel Says ObamaCare Violates Conscience Rights

by Karla Dial

This morning, the U.S. House of Representatives heard from a panel of experts about how the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — aka ObamaCare — violates health care workers’ rights not to participate in acts they find morally objectionable.

Under ObamaCare regulations, insurance policies  would be required to cover all contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and reproductive counseling methods the Food and Drug Administration has approved — provided free to women. Though there is a religious exemption, it’s written in a narrow fashion: The only groups exempted from mandated coverage are primarily those who hire or serve members of their own faith.

“Jesus and the apostles would not be ‘religious enough’ under such a test, as they served and healed people of different religions,” Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, wrote in a letter submitted by Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa. “Catholic organizations committed to their moral and religious teaching will have no choice but to stop providing health care and other services to the needy who are not Catholic, or stop providing health coverage to their own employees. This is an intolerable dilemma, and either choice will mean reduced access to health care.”

Pitts agreed. Regardless of where people stand on the health care law, he said, “we should universally support the notion that the federal government should be prohibited from taking coercive actions to force people to abandon their religious principles.”

Dr. David Stevens, CEO of the Christian Medical Association, testified that rather than increasing access to health insurance coverage, ObamaCare will reduce it, if the conscience protections for health care professionals in it are not expanded and strengthened.

“A national survey of over 2,100 faith-based physicians revealed that over nine of 10 are prepared to leave medicine if pressured to compromise their ethical and moral commitments,” he said. “The recent survey of our members revealed that 85 percent of medical professionals and students said that ‘policies that restrict the exercise of conscience in health care’ make it less likely that they will ‘practice health care in the future.’ ”

In addition, Stevens called on Congress to support another bill — H.R. 1179, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. Sponsored by Reps. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., and Dan Boren, R-Okla., in the House and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., with a companion bill (S. 1467) in the Senate, the legislation would ensure that employers, insurers and private citizens keep the right to provide and purchase health insurance that’s consistent with their beliefs and convictions.

Read H.R. 1179.

Read S. 1467.