Congress Fights Again Over Protecting Hospitals, Staff on Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 22, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Congress Fights Again Over Protecting Hospitals, Staff on Abortion Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 22, 2005

Washington, DC ( — The House and the Senate are again at odds over whether or not to offer comprehensive protection for hospitals, medical personnel and insurance companies that do not want to pay for or be involved in abortions. The House has approved a more expansive protection while a pro-abortion senator has inserted weakening language into the Senate version.

In the House version of the FY 2006 Labor-HHS appropriations bill, members included a provision that made the FY 2005 version protecting people in the medical industry. It prohibits agencies that receive federal dollars from discriminating against medical personnel or agencies that don’t want to be involved in abortions.

However, pro-abortion Sen. Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, put weaker language into the Senate version.

The Specter language would withhold federal dollars from discriminating agencies only if they require health care personnel to train in or perform abortions, but not if they are forced to refer patients to other facilities for abortions.

Specter included the changed wording in the Senate bill on behalf of NARAL and other abortion advocacy groups. The say it "clarifies" the Hyde-Weldon provision, but pro-life groups say it simply weakens the protections that provision offers.

A representative of the U.S. Conference of Catholic bishops say the Specter language would "effectively gut" the protections in the Hyde-Weldon language, which President Bush signed into law last year.

Pro-life groups hope the House version of the language will prevail when the bill goes to conference committee and before it is sent to President Bush to sign.

In June, a federal judge ruled that a lawsuit filed by the state of California to overturn the 2005 law could continue.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White of San Francisco issued an order rejecting a request by the federal government to dismiss the lawsuit filed against the law by California Attorney General Bill Lockyer.

Lockyer believes the law prevents California from enforcing its own laws regarding abortions which the state claims are medically necessary.

The National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, a pro-abortion group, has filed a second lawsuit against the Hyde-Weldon provision.