Pro-Life Law Firm’s Brief Defends Hospital Abortion Conscience Clause

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 23, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Law Firm’s Brief Defends Hospital Abortion Conscience Clause Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 23, 2004

Washington, DC ( — A pro-life law firm has filed a legal brief on behalf of members of Congress to defend a law that protects hospitals, health insurance companies and medical professionals who don’t want to pay for or perform abortions.

Earlier this month, President Bush signed into law the Hyde-Weldon provision that prohibits agencies that receive federal dollars from discriminating against medical personnel or agencies that don’t want to be involved in abortions.

Following Bush’s signature, the pro-abortion National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA) and California Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed lawsuits seeking to overturn the measure.

On Thursday, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) announced it has filed a brief for members of Congress defending the Hyde-Weldon law.

"The health care professional who is pro-life and opposed to abortion should not be punished and face discrimination for abiding by those convictions," said Jay Sekulow, ACLJ’s chief counsel.

Sekulow said his firm has been involved with numerous cases where health care professionals were punished or lost their jobs because of their pro-life beliefs. In one case, the ACLJ successfully defended a California nurse who did not want to dispense a drug that can cause abrotions.

"Congress is clearly within its authority to take the action it did – and we are privileged to represent members of Congress in defending this law – including the sponsors of the measure," Sekulow said.

The brief argues that the law is constitutional because it falls within Congress’ Spending Clause power. It also says Congress has expressed a preference for childbirth over abortion and it is appropriate that funding for federal agencies reflect that view.

Pro-life groups say the Hyde-Weldon law is necessary because abortion advocates have been attacking medical agencies and professionals who don’t want to be involved in abortion.

"This lawsuit is the height of hypocrisy: A ‘pro-choice’ group is suing so that health care providers will have no choice but to participate in abortion," said Cathy Cleaver Ruse of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops said.

Ruse cited an attempt by the ACLU of New Jersey in 2003 where it tried to block a Catholic hospital from merging with another health care provider unless it built an abortion facility. In Alaska, abortion advocates fought to force a public hospital to perform abortions against the desire of its board of directors.

The ACLJ brief supports the Justice Department’s defense of the Hyde-Weldon provision. It was submitted on behalf of six members of Congress, including Reps. Henry Hyde (R-IL) and Dave Weldon (R-FL), the measure’s sponsors.

The other members of Congress represented are: Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri, Idaho Rep. C.L. "Butch" Otter, Rep. Chip Pickering of Mississippi, and Indiana Rep. Mark Souder. All are Republicans.

NFPRHA filed suit last week in federal court in Washington, D.C.

Related web sites:
American Center for Law and Justice –
ACLJ brief defending Hyde-Weldon –