Bill May Be Last Chance to Stop Obama’s HHS-Abortion Mandate

National   Steven Ertelt   Mar 5, 2013   |   1:35PM    Washington, DC

A new bill members of Congress have introduced may be the last chance for Congress to take action to mitigate the conscience problems associated with President Barack Obama’s HHS mandate.

Today, members of Congress, with the backing of major pro-life groups, are introducing a new major bill to stop the Obama administration’s assault on pro-life religious freedom via the HHS mandate.

Congressmen Diane Black (R-TN), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), and John Fleming, M.D. (R-LA), are behind the introduction of the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (HCCRA) that would protect Americans’ First Amendment rights and would stop the Obama Administration’s HHS mandate from forcing religious groups to pay for drugs that may cause abortions in their employee health care plans.

The bill not only covers the mandate but also provides protection for medical professionals who refuse to be involved with the performance of abortions. The HCCRA also protects institutions and individuals from forced or coerced participation in abortion, they said.

Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, tells LifeNews the chance to protect religious freedom is now.

“This is the best, and likely only, opportunity to protect religious freedom this year as many organizations, religious institutions and businesses face millions of dollars in daily fines once the mandate goes into effect,” he said.

“Without action, beginning in June, businesses such as Hobby Lobby who put their faith in action will be fined $1.3 million a day because of their refusal to comply with the administration’s mandate that businesses provide abortion inducing drugs in their insurance plans. They are currently in legal proceedings to defend their rights of conscience but in the meantime, the livelihoods of hundreds of families hangs in the balance,” Perkins added.

“Let’s be clear, the Obama administration’s attempts at “accommodating” religious employers have been nothing but smoke and mirrors,” he continued. “The government’s latest proposed regulation forces the insurer to provide coverage of objectionable services to employees – at the objector’s cost! Rather than using accounting gimmicks, religious charities, health care providers, and other religious employers should be exempt. And companies like Hobby Lobby should not be forced to violate their deeply held beliefs or face fines.”

Perkins said pro-life advocates need to contact their members of Congress to support the bill and to personally ask House Leadership (Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy) to insert conscience protection legislation into the final FY2013 “CR.”

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Americans United for Life president Charmaine Yoest agreed.

“The healthcare law is the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade, and includes the unprecedented move to force cooperation with a life-ending agenda or face punitive action,” said Dr. Yoest. “AULA applauds the 13 women in Congress who are fighting for conscience rights through the budgeting process, and calls on all Members of Congress to support this effort.”

In a letter to House leadership, the 13 women representatives discussed violations of conscience rights already occurring, and said: “This attack on religious freedom demands immediate congressional action. Nothing short of a full exemption for both non-profit and for-profit entities will satisfy the demands of the Constitution and common sense. In recent years, the Administration has committed unprecedented attacks against the religious freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution, all under the guise of ‘access to health care.’ Congress cannot ignore the relentless assault on the First Amendment right to religious freedom.”

The letter was signed by House Representative Diane Black, Representative Marsha Blackburn, Representative Michele Bachmann, Representative Renee Ellmers, Representative Vicky Hartzler, Representative Martha Roby, Representative Jackie Walorski, Representative Cynthia Lummis, Representative Ann Wagner, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Representative Lynn Jenkins, Representative Candice Miller, and Representative Kristi Noem.