Democratic Senators Tell Obama Not to Rescind Abortion Protections for Doctors

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 31, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Democratic Senators Tell Obama Not to Rescind Abortion Protections for Doctors

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 31
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — The only two Democratic members of the U.S Senate who are not strong abortion advocates like the rest of their party’s caucus have sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking him not to rescind the conscience protections on abortion that President Bush put in place.

Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania sent Obama a letter last week telling him that the Provider Conscience Clause should remain.

That is the collection of new regulations the Bush administration put on the books to provide better enforcement of three federal laws making sure medical staff and facilities are not forced to participate in abortions.

The White House announced in February that Obama is starting the process of overturning the protections and he will make a final decision after the public comment period expires in April.

Pro-life advocates have been actively responding to the proposal.

The Democrats’ letter says, "We urge you to preserve the conscience protection rule, which defends individual health care providers and entities with moral concerns regarding specific procedures."

"We believe it is very important that federally funded health care providers and entities not be discriminated against because they refuse to participate in procedures or activities which are a violation of their consciences," they add.

"Such providers and entities should not be forced to participate in any activities violating their beliefs in order to continue providing vital health care services," they go on to say.

Nelson press secretary Clay Westrope told Baptist Press in an e-mail that the letter "is largely referencing the Bush HHS regulations, but not only those regulations."

The Casey and Nelson letter also asks President Obama to endorse the Pregnant Women Support Act (S. 270), a bill that Democrats for Life of America originated to try to reduce abortions by 95 percent over 10 years.

The bill combines pro-life measures that limit abortions along with support for pregnancy centers, better prenatal health care, child care, and other social programs that would reduce the financial pressures that prompt many women to have abortions.

"We stand ready to work with you in finding ways to reduce abortions in our country and, in furtherance of this critical goal, have introduced S. 270, the Pregnant Women Support Act, to promote positive interventions proven to reduce abortions," the letter reads, according to Baptist Press.

Existing federal laws already make it so doctors and hospitals are not required to perform abortions. Because those laws aren’t always followed, the Bush administration added additional protections.

Bush officials noted a pattern of grant recipients being unaware of or flouting existing laws protecting medical professionals’ rights of conscience. So, HHS enacted the new regulations to require grantees to certify compliance with them in order to receive funds.

Abortion advocates complained about the new regulations and made false claims that they would somehow deny women access to birth control even though the regulations do not limit or restrict any legal practice or product.

Three pro-abortion groups and pro-abortion attorneys general from seven states filed a lawsuit to overturn the rules.

Three pro-life medical associations banded together to fight the lawsuit. Attorneys with the Christian Legal Society and the Alliance Defense Fund filed motions to intervene in that and two other lawsuits filed by top pro-abortion groups to overturn the Provider Conscience Clause.

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