January 11, 2016

Positivity: Leading US bishop — 2016 is the time for pro-life conscience protections

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Washington:

Jan 5, 2016 / 12:42 am

On the cusp of 2016, the president of the U.S. Bishops Conference is calling for greater protection of pro-life professionals and organizations in the year ahead.

Archbishop Kurtz, who heads the Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky., lamented the absence of the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA) in Congress’ 2016 omnibus funding bill. He warned that the failure to include robust conscience protections against participation in abortion is a cause for grave concern.

“The principle at stake is whether people of faith and others who oppose abortion and abortion coverage should be compelled to participate in them,” the archbishop said Dec. 23. “We will continue to reach out to the White House and Congressional leaders untiringly until proper protections are guaranteed.”

“Many Catholic and other institutions, including those that provide health care and other human services to the poor and vulnerable, have joined in our support of ANDA,” the archbishop continued. “Without ANDA, these caring organizations face legal threats to their very existence, as they lack clear and enforceable protection for their freedom to serve the needy in accord with their deepest moral convictions on respect for human life.”

The Abortion Non-Discrimination Act had been included in the House of Representatives’ draft Labor / Department of Health and Human Services appropriations bills since 2013, but was never enacted. Its provisions would strengthen protections provided by the Weldon Amendment and the Church Amendments.

The Weldon Amendment has been included in HHS appropriations bills since 2005. It bars U.S. states that accept federal funds from discriminating against institutions and health care entities that do not provide coverage of abortion or refer for abortions. The Church Amendments, first passed in the 1970s, bar individuals and entities from being required to violate their religious beliefs or moral convictions against abortion as part of a government program.

In an Oct. 25 primer, the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities analyzed the proposed Abortion Non-Discrimination Act.

According to the primer, the act would protect medical professionals from being forced to take part in abortions despite their moral and religious objections. Some current protections for these persons lack a “right of action” that would allow victims to take their cause to court. Existing provisions threaten a total loss of federal funds to those who violate the law, but there are concerns this penalty is so massive it will never be applied in practice. …

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