Mississippi Pro-Life Group Promotes Important New Legislation
by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
January 6, 2004
Jackson, MS (LifeNews.com) — This New Year, Right to Life of Jackson is actively promoting two important pieces of legislation under a new name – Pro-Life Mississippi.
The name change, which took effect December 15, reflects the organization’s statewide mission and its positive commitment to the protection of life at all stages from conception to natural death. In addition, the new name helps distinguish Pro-Life Mississippi from the state’s National Right to Life affiliate, Mississippi Right to Life.
As the next legislative session approaches, Pro-Life Mississippi will be promoting the Healthcare Worker Right of Conscience Act, which will protect the civil rights of health professionals that wish to opt out of performing abortion-related procedures, and the Abortion Complication Reporting Act, which will require the reporting of the medical treatment or death of women resulting from abortions.
"It is crucial that we pass these bills, especially the complication reporting bill," Pat Cartrette, Executive Director of Pro-Life Mississippi told LifeNews.com.
"Abortion clinics were placed under their own set of regulations in 1996 and not required to adhere to ambulatory surgery facility guidelines like all other outpatient surgery facilities," Cartrette explained. "The claim at the time the law was passed was that abortion is a safe, simple procedure and clinics did not need to meet ambulatory surgery center standards. At least in Mississippi, this does not appear to be the case, but we need hard data to substantiate this. The reporting act will provide that data."
There were 3,566 abortions performed in Mississippi in 2001, the latest year information is available. The number of women who had complications is unknown.
Cartrette said the Healthcare Worker Right of Conscience Act is also important to the state, as Mississippi is one of four states that does not offer any protection from job discrimination for refusal to participate in procedures to which the employee morally objects.
Alabama, New Hampshire, and Vermont are the other states that do not provide a conscience clause allowing healthcare workers to opt out of such procedures.
Nationally, pro-life groups are supporting The Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (S. 1397), a bipartisan-sponsored bill that would provide similar protection on the federal level. The legislation was approved the House last year, but was not considered by the Senate. Earlier this month, it was reintroduced to the House for consideration in 2004.
The bill provides clarity to an existing pro-life law, passed in 1996, to protect all health care facilities from being required to perform abortions. After some courts wrongly interpreted the law to apply to only some groups of health care providers, ANDA will ensure that all entities and individuals in the health profession can opt out of performing or allowing abortions.
President Bush supports the legislation and would sign it if passed by Congress.
"Hospitals and health care professionals should not be forced to perform or participate in abortions,” the Bush administration said in a statement. "This legislation makes clear that they may not be subjected to discrimination by the federal government, or by any state or local government … because they oppose or choose not to participate in abortions or abortion training."
Related Links: Pro Life Mississippi – https://www.rtlj.org