Senate Rejects Amendment Protecting Abortion-Conscience Rights for Doctors

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 3, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Rejects Amendment Protecting Abortion-Conscience Rights for Doctors

by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 3
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — The Senate on Thursday night rejected an amendment from a pro-life senator that would have provided conscience protection on abortion for doctors and medical centers. The amendment comes at a time when President Barack Obama is considering overturning further protections.

Sen Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, sponsored an amendment to the Senate budget bill that would protect the right of conscience for health care workers.

His budget amendment was to "protect the freedom of conscience for patients and the right of health care providers to serve patients without violating their moral and religious convictions."

However, the Senate rejected the conscience amendment on a 56-41 vote with most of the chamber’s Democrats voting against it along with a handful of pro-abortion Republicans.

Three Democrats joined most of the Senate Republicans in voting for the Coburn amendment.

Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for National Right to Life, talked with about the vote afterwards. He says the pro-life community needs to be prepared for even bigger battles in the Senate.

"This Senate vote has no direct legal effect, but it is one more signal that the coming Democratic ‘health care reform’ bill will be loaded with provisions that assault basic pro-life principles, so the pro-life movement better be prepared for a big fight," he explained.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life women’s group, told before the vote that the amendment was worthy of support.

"This amendment is crucial in our fight to protect doctors and nurses around the country from being discriminated against for refusing to participate in abortions and other medical procedures that violate their conscience," she said.

The amendment comes at a time when Obama is considering rescinding the Provider Conscience Clause that further protects the rights of health workers.

President Bush put the provision into place to provide more enforcement for the three federal laws that make it so medical professionals and facilities are not required to do abortions.

However, President Obama has proposed overturning those conscience protections and will likely do so after a 30-day public comment window expires on April 9.

Despite federal laws protecting health care workers from having to participate in abortions, Dannenfelser says she knows of examples of that happening.

"Sadly we have already seen cases of discrimination. For example in 2008 a nurse was forced to leave two different hospitals because she refused to sign a form pledging to assist in abortions," she said.

ACTION: Contact your two U.S. senators and respond to their vote on the Coburn amendment. Call 202-224-3121 to connect with any senator’s office or visit

Vote by Home State on the Coburn Amendment
A yes vote is pro-life and a no vote is pro-abortion

Alabama: Sessions (R-AL), Yea Shelby (R-AL), Yea Alaska: Begich (D-AK), Nay Murkowski (R-AK), Yea Arizona: Kyl (R-AZ), Yea McCain (R-AZ), Yea Arkansas: Lincoln (D-AR), Nay Pryor (D-AR), Yea California: Boxer (D-CA), Nay Feinstein (D-CA), Nay Colorado: Bennet (D-CO), Nay Udall (D-CO), Nay Connecticut: Dodd (D-CT), Nay Lieberman (ID-CT), Nay Delaware: Carper (D-DE), Nay Kaufman (D-DE), Nay Florida: Martinez (R-FL), Yea Nelson (D-FL), Nay Georgia: Chambliss (R-GA), Yea Isakson (R-GA), Yea Hawaii: Akaka (D-HI), Nay Inouye (D-HI), Nay Idaho: Crapo (R-ID), Yea Risch (R-ID), Yea Illinois: Burris (D-IL), Nay Durbin (D-IL), Nay Indiana: Bayh (D-IN), Nay Lugar (R-IN), Yea Iowa: Grassley (R-IA), Yea Harkin (D-IA), Nay Kansas: Brownback (R-KS), Yea Roberts (R-KS), Yea Kentucky: Bunning (R-KY), Yea McConnell (R-KY), Yea Louisiana: Landrieu (D-LA), Nay Vitter (R-LA), Yea Maine: Collins (R-ME), Nay Snowe (R-ME), Nay Maryland: Cardin (D-MD), Nay Mikulski (D-MD), Nay Massachusetts: Kennedy (D-MA), Not Voting Kerry (D-MA), Nay Michigan: Levin (D-MI), Nay Stabenow (D-MI), Nay Minnesota: Klobuchar (D-MN), Nay Mississippi: Cochran (R-MS), Yea Wicker (R-MS), Yea Missouri: Bond (R-MO), Yea McCaskill (D-MO), Nay Montana: Baucus (D-MT), Nay Tester (D-MT), Nay Nebraska: Johanns (R-NE), Yea Nelson (D-NE), Yea Nevada: Ensign (R-NV), Yea Reid (D-NV), Nay New Hampshire: Gregg (R-NH), Yea Shaheen (D-NH), Nay New Jersey: Lautenberg (D-NJ), Nay Menendez (D-NJ), Nay New Mexico: Bingaman (D-NM), Nay Udall (D-NM), Nay New York: Gillibrand (D-NY), Nay Schumer (D-NY), Nay North Carolina: Burr (R-NC), Yea Hagan (D-NC), Nay North Dakota: Conrad (D-ND), Nay Dorgan (D-ND), Nay Ohio: Brown (D-OH), Nay Voinovich (R-OH), Yea Oklahoma: Coburn (R-OK), Yea Inhofe (R-OK), Yea Oregon: Merkley (D-OR), Nay Wyden (D-OR), Nay Pennsylvania: Casey (D-PA), Yea Specter (R-PA), Nay Rhode Island: Reed (D-RI), Nay Whitehouse (D-RI), Nay South Carolina: DeMint (R-SC), Yea Graham (R-SC), Yea South Dakota: Johnson (D-SD), Nay Thune (R-SD), Yea Tennessee: Alexander (R-TN), Yea Corker (R-TN), Yea Texas: Cornyn (R-TX), Yea Hutchison (R-TX), Yea Utah: Bennett (R-UT), Yea Hatch (R-UT), Yea Vermont: Leahy (D-VT), Nay Sanders (I-VT), Nay Virginia: Warner (D-VA), Nay Webb (D-VA), Nay Washington: Cantwell (D-WA), Nay Murray (D-WA), Nay West Virginia: Byrd (D-WV), Not Voting Rockefeller (D-WV), Nay Wisconsin: Feingold (D-WI), Nay Kohl (D-WI), Nay Wyoming: Barrasso (R-WY), Yea Enzi (R-WY), Yea

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