Lawsuit Filed Against Abortion Provision Protecting Health Care Workers

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 26, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Lawsuit Filed Against Abortion Provision Protecting Health Care Workers Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 26, 2005

Sacramento, CA ( — California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, on Wednesday, filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn a new federal law that protects those in the health care industry that don’t want to be involved in abortions.

Contained in a spending bill signed by President Bush, the Hyde-Weldon provision says that the federal government can’t discriminate against doctors, hospitals or health insurance companies that do not want to perform or pay for abortions.

As a result, any federal, state or local agency that receives federal money would lose those funds if they engage in such discrimination.

However, abortion advocates, like Lockyer, say the provision targets the legality of abortion.

"The Weldon amendment tramples on women’s constitutional rights, state sovereignty and the interests of California taxpayers," Lockyer said in a statement. "Equality for women is illusory unless they remain free to make their own health care decisions."

Weldon told the Sacramento Bee newspaper that his amendment "in no way infringes" on a woman’s right to an abortion. Instead, Weldon said in a statement, it only says "you can’t force the unwilling" to perform them.

"Mr. Lockyer seems anxious to preserve California’s right to coerce such unwilling providers into performing abortions," Weldon said.

On the other hand, NARAL president Nancy Keenan called the Weldon provision a "sneak attack on a woman’s right to choose."

Earlier this month, a federal judge held a hearing in another lawsuit, filed by the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA).

U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy made no decision in the case after hearing arguments from both sides about the implications of the new law.

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.

Officials at the California Planned Parenthood affiliate applauded Lockyer’s lawsuit.

"The Weldon Amendment is another example of the Bush Administration’s efforts to put up roadblocks to prevent women’s access to reproductive services with the ultimate goal of eliminating a women’s right to choose," the group said.

Lockyer filed a 24-page lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell joined him in the lawsuit.