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Monday, March 4, 2013

Bill to Stop Administration’s Assault on Religious Freedom

Congressional friends of religious liberty and conscience rights continue to put forward legislation to protect conscience- and faith-based ethical commitments and standards in health care. These protections apply First Amendment freedoms to health care professionals, companies and organizations. By upholding the right to follow life-honoring standards such as expressed in the Bible and in the Hippocratic oath, such laws ultimately protect patients who depend upon ethical health care.
To help advance the bill outlined below, use the Freedom2Care legislative action site to contact your U.S. Representative and encourage him or her to support the Health Care Conscience Rights Act.

Reps. Black, Fortenberry & Fleming to Hold Press Conference

Tuesday, March 5th at 10am

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressmen Diane Black (R-TN), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), and John Fleming, M.D. (R-LA) will hold a press conference tomorrow, Tuesday, March 5th at 10am EST in Rayburn House Office Building Room B-318 regarding the introduction of the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (HCCRA). 
The bill would protect Americans’ First Amendment rights and would stop the Obama Administration’s assault on religious freedom. HCCRA offers reprieve from ongoing violations of our First Amendment, including full exemption from the Obama Administration’s Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate and conscience protection for individuals and health care entities that refuse to provide, pay for, or refer patients to abortion providers because of their deeply-held, reasoned beliefs.

Who:               Members of Congress:
·         Diane Black (R-TN)
·         Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE)
·         John Fleming, M.D. (R-LA)

Victims of Religious Persecution:  
·         Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo, RN - New York State nurse who filed suit after her freedom to serve patients according to her conscience was violated. For more information, click here.
·         Susan Elliott, PhD, Director and Professor at Biola University Nursing Department. For more information, click here.
·         Christine Ketterhagen, Co-Owner/Board Member of Hercules Industries, Inc. – will appear with co-plaintiff Andy Newland, President of Hercules Industries & Bill Newland, Chairman of the Board. For more information, click here.

When:   Tuesday, March 5th at 10 a.m. EST

Where:  Rayburn House Office Building - Room B-318

Background on provisions in the Health Care Conscience Rights Act:

HHS Mandate:
Under the health care coverage mandate issued on August 3, 2011, widely known as the HHS mandate, organizations and their managers are now facing potentially ruinous financial penalties for exercising their First Amendment rights, as protected by law. Hobby Lobby, a family business that was denied injunctive relief from the mandate and faces fines of up to $1.3 million dollars a day, unless its owners agree to fund potentially abortion-inducing drugs. If Hobby Lobby is forced to close its doors, some 25,000 jobs nationwide may disappear. The Obama Administration’s HHS mandate exemption only includes houses of worship and does not account for the thousands of religious and non-religious affiliated employers that find it a moral hazard to cover sterilization, contraception and potentially abortion-inducing drugs on their employer-based health insurance. Ultimately, the so-called “accommodation” does not protect anyone’s religious rights, because all companies and organizations will still be forced to provide insurance coverage that includes services which conflict with their religious convictions. The HCCRA would address this violation of our First Amendment rights by providing a full exemption for all those whose religious beliefs run counter to the Administration’s HHS mandate.

Abortion Non-Discrimination:
The HCCRA also protects institutions and individuals from forced or coerced participation in abortion.  In recent years there have been several examples of nurses being told they must participate in abortions. There have also been efforts to require Catholic Hospitals to do abortions, and a Catholic social service provider was denied a grant to assist victims of human trafficking on the basis of their pro-life convictions. The HCCRA codifies and clarifies the appropriations provision known as the Hyde‐Weldon conscience clause. This is accomplished by adding the protections for health care entities that refuse to provide, pay for, or refer for abortion to the section of the Public Health Service Act known as the Coats Amendment. It also adds the option of judicial recourse for victims whose rights have been violated under the HCCRA, Coats, or the conscience clauses known as the Church amendments. 

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