by Steven Ertelt
December 9, 2004
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — President Bush signed a bill on Wednesday that includes language protecting hospitals, medical professionals and health insurance providers from being forced or perform or pay for abortions. A larger governmental funding bill contains the pro-life provision.
The measure ensures that state and local governments receiving money from the federal Health and Human Services Department cannot discriminate against health care providers that do not perform abortions, pay for abortions, provide insurance coverage for abortions or refer to agencies that perform abortions.
The measure was originally passed by the House of Representatives as a stand-alone bill known as the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA) but it never received a Senate vote.
Pro-life groups say the measure is necessary because abortion advocates are working feverishly to require hospitals and insurance companies to perform or pay for abortions.
Maureen Bailey of the pro-life office of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, told Zenit that "the ACLU of New Jersey intervened in a hospital merger in an attempt to force a Catholic hospital to build an abortion clinic."
"In Florida, after a community hospital joined a cost-sharing consortium with a Catholic system and ceased performing abortions, it was sued by the city of St. Petersburg, which leased land to the hospital," Bailey explained. "Soon the ACLU sued both the city and the hospital. Under the pressure of the lawsuits, the hospital left the cost-saving consortium."
In Alaska, the ACLU filed a lawsuit in an attempt to force a community hospital to allow late-term abortions on its premises. And in New Mexico, a state board refused to approve a hospital lease to a medical facility that refused to perform abortions.
As expected, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the American Civil Liberties Union criticized the provision in the bill Bush signed saying it discriminates against women seeking abortions.
However, the fight on the pro-life provision isn’t over.
Pro-abortion Senator Barbara Boxer of California is expected to put forward a bill next year that would overturn the measure. She was promised a vote on her bill in return for her allowing the legislation containing the pro-life provision to reach Bush for his signature.
That was a smart move according to Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee who says such a bill by Boxer would never succeed.
"Senator Boxer was promised a vote on a bill to repeal the law, but this is of little consequence," Johnson told LifeNews.com. "Even if such a bill passes the Senate, which is doubtful, it would not pass the House, nor receive the President’s signature."
The House previously passed the ANDA bill with a 229-to-189 vote in September 2002.
Currently, 86 percent of American hospitals do not allow abortions to be performed.