Senator’s Amendment Would Protect Conscience Rights of Pro-Life Medical Staff
by Steven Ertelt
December 9, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Although they were successful in getting the Senate to sign off on the Nelson amendment to ban abortion funding, pro-life lawmakers aren’t giving up on trying to lessen the number of pro-abortion problems with the Senate version of the government-run health care bill.
Sen. Tom Coburn, a pro-life Oklahoma Republican who is a physician by trade, proposed an amendment to the bill on Monday that would provide protections for pro-life medical workers.
The Coburn amendment would ensure that health care providers do not have to participate in the performance of abortions.
The amendment closely mirrors an amendment the House Energy & Commerce Committee adopted by a voice vote in July and that was retained in section 259 for the final version of the health care bill the House approved in November.
The Coburn amendment is also the same amendment he proposed during committee consideration of the Senate bill and that was defeated with only one Democrat joining Republicans to support it.
Coburn says the amendment is sorely needed because, despite federal laws to protect conscience rights, there are still numerous examples of health care providers being pressured or forced to do or assist in abortions — and some cases have occurred as recently as earlier this year.
One of the most recent and horrifying stories Coburn notes concerns a New York nurse, Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo, forced to assist in a late-term D&E abortion on a healthy unborn baby. Her case is in the courts and the hospital is trying to get the case dismissed saying she has no right to sue under the federal conscience law currently in existence.
The amendment reads: "A Federal agency or program, and any State or local government, or institutional health care entity that receives Federal financial assistance under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act), shall not subject any individual or institutional health care entity to discrimination; or require any health care entity that is established or regulated under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act) to subject any individual or institutional health care entity to discrimination on the basis that such health care entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions."
The amendment says the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services is designated to receive complaints of discrimination based on the amendment.
In the forced abortion case Coburn’s office cited to LifeNews.com, nurse Cenzon-DeCarlo says she told the hospital about her objections to participating in abortions.
Since 2004, officials at Mount Sinai Hospital knew that Cenzon-DeCarlo had deeply-felt pro-life views and would not consent to assisting in an abortion.
That didn’t stop hospital officials from threatening her with disciplinary measures if she did not honor a last-minute summons to assist in a scheduled late-term abortion.
Cenzon-DeCarlo previously told the New York Post about what it felt like to have to participate in an abortion against her wishes.
"It felt like a horror film unfolding," she said. "I couldn’t believe that this could happen."
"I felt violated and betrayed," Cenzon-DeCarlo said about how officials at the hospital treated her after knowing her faith and values.
Now, she hopes the lawsuit she filed will be sufficient to restore protection for her religious and moral views about abortion in the workplace.
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