House Panel Holds Hearing on Bush Rules, Including Protecting Pro-Life Doctors

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 4, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

House Panel Holds Hearing on Bush Rules, Including Protecting Pro-Life Doctors

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 4
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — A Congressional panel held a hearing on Wednesday on the rules and regulations the Bush administration put in place at the tail end of its tenure. The pro-life community supported one of the rules, the Provider Conscience Clause, which protected medical centers and staff on abortions.

The clause provides better enforcement for existing federal laws that protect medical facilities and professionals from being forced to participate in abortions.

Abortion advocates have strongly opposed the rule and are looking to Congress to eventually abolish it.

On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law held a hearing that focused on the whole package rules.

During the hearing, pro-abortion Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, promoted his legislation, HR 34, that would limit such last-minute rules. It would allow incoming agency heads to submit their disapproval with a rule created during the final 90 days of an outgoing administration.

"The Bush Administration rushed many rules through the process at an accelerated pace," Nadler grumbled.

The Congressional Review Act, which became law in 1996 and could be used to rescind the Bush pro-life protections, is one vehicle abortion advocates have to overturn the new policy. However, it calls for a vote on each individual rule in question.

"Given the sheer number of midnight rules, this would require more time than Congress has available," Nadler said.

There are other options abortion advocates may used to reverse the protections for medical staff.

Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York and Patty Murray of Washington have already put forward legislation that would overturn the rule by preventing the Department of Health and Human Services from implementing it. Reps. Diana DeGette of Colorado and Louis Slaughter of New York have filed a companion bill in the House.

The third, and perhaps most likely option, is for President Barack Obama to have his Health and Human Services Secretary, which was supposed to be pro-abortion former Sen. Tom Daschle before a tax scandal caused him to withdraw, to issue new regulations overturning those the Bush administration just put into place.

Representatives of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, both abortion advocates, have told various media outlets that they are discussing the options with other Congressional leaders and haven’t yet decided which strategy to use to revoke the pro-life Bush rules.

Leading pro-abortion groups hailed the subcommittee hearing and called for reversing the physicians’ protections.

National Women’s Law Center president Marcia Greenberger said, "It is imperative that the Bush Administration’s last minute attempts to diminish women’s rights and health be reversed."

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