by Steven Ertelt
January 6, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A federal judge held a hearing on a lawsuit filed by abortion advocates to overturn a new law that protects hospitals, health insurers and medical professionals who don’t want to be involved in paying for or performing abortions.
The National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA), which filed the suit, asked U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy to block the new law.
The pro-abortion group claims it puts billions of dollars in grants to state and local agencies at risk and that it overturns the ability of women to obtain abortions.
Judge Kennedy made no decision in the case after hearing arguments from both sides about the implications of the new law.
According to an Associated Press report, James Gilligan made the case for the Bush administration for the new law. He said the pro-abortion organization is reading too much into the law and conjuring up a "parade of horribles" that will never happen.
In November, President Bush signed a federal spending bill containing the new provision. The Hyde-Weldon measure prohibits agencies that receive federal dollars from discriminating against medical personnel or agencies that don’t want to be involved in abortions.
Judy DeSarno, president of the NFPRHA, contends Florida Congressman Dave Weldon, a medical doctor, "wants to shut down access to abortion and he wants to start with information by putting agencies in a position that they could in fact get sued from either side of the law."
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, who backs abortion, joined NFPRHA in filing suit against the law.
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) 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 abortions.
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 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.
Related web sites:
American Center for Law and Justice – https://www.aclj.org