Court Backs Abortion Law Protecting Pro-Life Medical Personnel, Facilities

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 15, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Court Backs Abortion Law Protecting Pro-Life Medical Personnel, Facilities Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 15
, 2006

Washington, DC ( — A federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by pro-abortion groups to overturn a national law protecting pro-life medical clinics and professionals. Pro-abortion groups had challenged the Weldon amendment, which protects them when they refuse to be involved in abortions.

The Weldon Amendment is a federal law that prohibits the federal government or state and local governments receiving certain federal aid from discriminating against medical professionals who refuse to perform or refer for abortions.

“Doctors and nurses should not be forced to participate in abortions against their religious beliefs or conscience," Casey Mattox, an attorney for the Christian Legal Society, said in a statement obtained.

The National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association challenged the Weldon Amendment just days after it was first signed into law by President Bush in December 2005.

After a federal district court upheld the law, the pro-abortion group appealed arguing that the Weldon Amendment was too vague to enforce. It also claimed their member organizations had a constitutional right to force medical professionals to provide abortion referrals.

The ruling, handed down on Tuesday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, held that NFPRHA lacked standing to challenge the Weldon Amendment.

“This decision turns back the effort to enshrine abortion as a right above even the First Amendment," Mattox explained.

The Christian Medical Association and American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists intervened to defend the Weldon Amendment on behalf of members of the two medical associations, which include over 18,000 pro-life doctors, nurses, physician assistants, and other medical professionals across the country.

The Alliance Defense Fund and the Christian Legal Society represented them in the case.

Another case regarding the Weldon amendment is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. CMA and AAPLOG, along with the Fellowship of Christian Physician Assistants, are also defending the Weldon Amendment in that case.
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed that lawsuit against the Weldon provision in January 2005 and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in June that the two pro-life groups can join in defending the law.

President Bush signed a federal spending bill with a provision sponsored by pro-life Reps. Henry Hyde and Dave Weldon saying the federal government can’t discriminate against doctors, hospitals or health insurance companies that do not want to perform or pay for abortions.

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

The Weldon amendment was needed because abortion advocates have tried in numerous instances to force health care facilities to do abortions.

In 2003, the ACLU of New Jersey 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 decision is National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association v. Gonzales.

Related web sites:
Alliance Defense Fund –
Christian Legal Society –
view the ruling –