Petition Campaign Asks Obama to Protect Pro-Life Doctors

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 6, 2011   |   11:02AM   |   Washington, DC

The Christian Medical Association today sent pro-abortion President Barack Obama a letter on behalf of 61,154 individuals who signed a petition urging him to uphold and enforce conscience rights in health care.

The issue is especially important for faith-based physicians who say they will leave medicine if forced to compromise their life-affirming ethical convictions by having to participate in or refer for abortions. They also want to be protected from having to give women drugs that might cause an abortion.

“I write to urge your support of conscience-protecting measures in law and in regulation–to help put a stop to discrimination against life-affirming healthcare professionals, and to protect healthcare access for the millions of patients who depend upon their often charitable services,” Dr. David Stevens, the head of the Christian medical group, wrote in a letter accompanying the petitions.

The petition signatures came through the CMA-managed Freedom2Care coalition and they urge Obama to preserve the only federal regulation protecting conscience rights in health care.

“Unfortunately, your administration recently gutted that regulation,” Stevens noted. “That decision leaves many healthcare professionals wide open to discrimination–you can read their personal stories. The gutting of the regulation also threatens the healthcare access of the many life-affirming patients who value the freedom to choose professionals who share their moral values.”

“I urge you to consider the voices and values of these many Americans and (a) restore a strong conscience-protecting regulation and (b) support and sign into law strong conscience-protecting legislation,” Stevens said.

As reported in February, the Obama administration overturned some of the conscience protections the Bush administration put in place to protect pro-life medical workers who don’t want to be involved in certain medical procedures. The administration rescinded part of the protections by removing protections for medical workers who have moral or religious objections to dispensing or giving to women the Plan B drug or other emergency contraception that could act in some cases as an abortion drug.

The move by the Obama administration came months before the release of a poll the Christian Medical Association commissioned on May 3rd showing that 77% of American adults believe that it is important to “make sure that health care professionals in America are not forced to participate in procedures and practices to which they have moral objections.” A poll released previously by CMA revealed that 62% opposed a revocation of the conscience protection rule for medical professionals.

The CMA will continue the conscience petition campaign and has expanded to include legislators, as Congress considers several conscience-protecting bills.

“We urge all life-affirming patients and healthcare professionals in America to join this petition to help secure the legal protections needed to continue ethical, faith-based medicine,” Dr. Stevens said.

In his letter, Dr. Stevens also called on Obama to have his administration educate the healthcare community accurately about existing legal protections.

Dr. Stevens noted that the “broad legal protections afforded by the federal Church Amendment, part (d) should be widely promoted and consistently enforced: ‘No individual shall be required to perform or assist in the performance of any part of a health service program or research activity funded in whole or in part under a program administered by the Secretary of Health and Human Services if his performance or assistance in the performance of such part of such program or activity would be contrary to his religious beliefs or moral convictions.'”

A nationwide poll commissioned in 2009 by the Freedom2Care coalition found that over nine in ten faith-based physicians indicated they would leave medicine if denied the ability to practice according to their moral beliefs.