The US Conference of Catholic Bishops – which aspires to tell the secular government what to do, and has much success in doing just that – has a campaign for religious libery, by which of course it means the USCCB’s liberty to tell everyone else what to do. It’s pushing for a “Health care conscience rights act” – and we all know what they mean by that. They want Congress to make it a law that they have a “right” to refuse to do their jobs if that involves medical treatments they choose to have “religious” objections to. They have a fact sheet on the subject.
The right of religious liberty, the First Freedom
guaranteed by our Constitution, includes a right to
provide and receive health care without being required to
violate our most fundamental beliefs.
No it does not. No no no. That is not a right. There is no “right” to practice medicine while refusing to do part of the job because of your made-up religious scruples. The right that matters here is the right to get medical treatment on equal terms with everyone else. There’s no “right” to refuse to serve people of color or LGBT people or women, for example. There’s no “right” to refuse to perform abortions or dispense contraceptives.
1973, when abortion became legal nationwide, federal
lawmakers have worked in a bipartisan way to ensure that
Americans can fully participate in our health care system
without being forced to take part in abortion or other
procedures that violate their conscience.
Then they need to stop doing that, and do the other thing. They need to ensure that all patients are served and on an equal footing with all others. Period.
But the need to improve current laws is clear, because the
right of conscience is still under attack:
· Under the new health care reform law, the federal
government is demanding that almost all health plans
fully cover female sterilization and a wide range of
drugs and devices to prevent pregnancy, including
those that can cause an early abortion. Even
individuals and organizations with a religious
objection to abortion, sterilization or other
procedures are forced to take part.
· A Catholic agency that for years had provided
excellent service lost its federal grant to serve the
victims of human trafficking, because it could not, in
conscience, comply with a new requirement to
facilitate abortions and other morally objectionable
procedures for its clients.
· Dedicated health care professionals, especially nurses,
still face pressure to assist in abortions under threat of
losing their jobs or their eligibility for training
· In some states, government officials are seeking to
force even Catholic hospitals to allow abortions or
provide abortion coverage in order to continue or
expand their ministry.
This is why members of Congress of both parties are
sponsoring the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (H.R.
940, S. 1204). The Act would improve federal law in
1. Correcting loopholes and other deficiencies in the
major federal law preventing governmental
discrimination against health care providers that do
not help provide or pay for abortions.
2. Inserting a conscience clause into the health care
reform law, so its mandates for particular “benefits”
in private health plans will not be used to force
insurers, employers and individuals to violate their
consciences or give up their health insurance.
3. Adding a “private right of action” to existing federal
conscience laws, so those whose consciences are
being violated can go to court to defend their rights.
(Current enforcement is chiefly at the discretion of
the Department of Health and Human Services,
which is itself sponsoring some attacks on
All House and Senate members should be urged to
support and co-sponsor the Health Care Conscience
Rights Act, so our First Freedom can regain its proper
place as a fundamental right protected in our health care
They have to be stopped.