Poll: Americans Back Conscience Protection Laws on Abortion

National   Steven Ertelt   May 4, 2011   |   10:28AM    Washington, DC

As the House of Representatives today debates legislation that would restore some conscience protections for health professionals on abortion, new polling data shows Americans support such laws.

The House is debating the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 3) that bans federal funding for abortions across every governmental department and program. The legislation also protects health care professionals who don’t want to be involved in abortions.

According to the National Right to Life Committee: “The bill would codify the principles of the Hyde-Weldon Amendment, which has been appended to the original Hyde Amendment on every Health and Human Services appropriations bill since 2004. This provision would solidify important protections for health care providers who do not wish to participate in providing abortions – which is especially important in light of the Obama Administration’s February 23, 2011 action rescinding the conscience protection regulation issued by the Bush Administration.”

The 16,000-member Christian Medical Association released the results of a new poll the Polling Company conducted for it and the Freedom2Care coalition. The results showed  a majority of the public support for the conscience protections for healthcare professionals and strong public support across partisan and ideological lines for the conscience protections.

Fully half (50 percent) of survey respondents voiced support for “a law under which federal agencies and other government bodies that receive federal funds could not discriminate against hospitals and health care professionals who decline to participate in abortions.” Only 35 percent voiced opposition.

The poll also found that 77 percent of Americans said it is important to them “to make sure that healthcare professionals in America are not forced to participate in procedures or practices to which they have moral objections.”

Dr. David Stevens, the head of the Christian Medical Association, told LifeNews, “Americans recognize that since the founding of our country, one of our most cherished ideals has been the freedom to follow our conscience. By protecting the conscience rights of healthcare professionals who practice medicine according to life-affirming standards, we not only uphold this ideal; we also protect patients who want physicians who share their life-affirming moral values.”

Donald Thompson, MD, Director of CMA’s Global Health Outreach, said, “Ob-Gyn physicians are already leaving the field in droves due to soaring medical malpractice insurance premiums and frustration with the increasing bureaucratization of medicine. Conscience protections are essential to keep the many life-affirming, faith-based obstetricians depended upon by millions of needy patients and by women who share their values.”

This new survey follows up on a nationwide poll commissioned in 2009 by the CMA-led Freedom2Care coalition that found 88% of American adults surveyed said it is either “very” or “somewhat” important to them that they share a similar set of morals as their doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers. Over nine in ten faith-based physicians who were also polled indicated they would leave medicine if denied the ability to practice according to their moral beliefs.

Kellyanne Conway, CEO of the Polling Company, talked about the new survey, and said: “Conscience protections for health professionals enjoy broad support, spanning gender, age, race, geographic region, political party affiliation and even position on abortion. Every major demographic group proved more likely to support than oppose conscience protection laws for healthcare professionals. Congress has an easy path to do the will of the people.”

Despite the protections for medical professionals, President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the bill.

See details of the new poll at http://www.freedom2care.org/learn/page/surveys