From Deirdre McQuade of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops comes this urgent message:
Doctors practice medicine to diagnose, treat, and prevent illness for their patients. They pledge to “do no harm.” Yet many face tremendous pressure to participate in abortion and sterilization.
Informed Catholic health professionals understand that such procedures are not authentic medicine. They are not therapeutic, as they treat no disease or pathological condition. An unborn child is not a disease to be “cured” through abortion; and sterilization stops a healthy reproductive system from functioning properly.
Medical personnel, like all citizens, have the right not to be forced to participate in practices that offend their deeply held moral and religious convictions. This is a fundamental human right long recognized in our democracy.
But the right of conscience is under serious attack. Pro-abortion groups are pushing hard to undermine conscience rights in health care so nothing will stand in the way of maximum access to abortion. They call abortion a “free choice” — but what is more coercive than forcing people to perform or refer for an act they find morally abhorrent? Such coercion strikes at the heart of medicine’s healing mission.
Existing federal laws forbid government bodies and federally-funded hospitals, medical schools and research programs to discriminate against health care providers for exercising their conscience rights on abortion and sterilization. Unfortunately, these protective laws are widely unknown and unevenly enforced. Those who experience discrimination often do not know where to turn. To protect medical personnel, health care institutions must be held accountable to existing law.
The Obama Administration has issued a proposal to weaken current legal protection of conscience in health care, rescinding a recent Bush Administration regulation that helps implement the protective laws. The public has until Thursday, April 9 to write to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) urging it to retain the regulation.
Our voice is needed right now! But what can we do? Go to www.usccb.org/conscienceprotection to get informed, take action, and spread the word.
To send your e-mail, go to the above link. Otherwise, you can send your message directly by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or go online to www.Regulations.gov (check “Select to find documents” and then enter “Rescission Proposal”). Comments also can be mailed. See instructions in the March 10 Federal Register . In all comments, refer to “Rescission Proposal.”