The campaign to force hospitals to provide abortion

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Forty-five states and the federal government protect the right of health care providers to
decline involvement in abortion. Pro-abortion  groups seek to abolish these legal protections.

Consider the following:

Abortion Access Project

Operating in twenty-four states, the project’s goal is “increasing access to abortion services by expanding . . . the number of hospitals offering abortion services.” The project admits that its tactics include “pressuring hospitals” and it does so through both political and legal pressure. The “Hospital Access Collaborative” division reports on the state projects’ legal and regulatory interventions challenging mergers. [Full text]

Testimony of pharmacist re: Wisconsin Assembly Bill 63

Before the Assembly Labour Committee

 Susan Grosskreuz, R.Ph.

Although there is an extremely high demand for pharmacists in our state, I have had to be very selective as to where I am willing to work because I cannot go against my conscience. . . Although pharmacy jobs in the retail sector were generally plentiful . . . I accepted a position at a newly created pharmacy . . .that served only nursing home patients. . . . I actually would have preferred working in the retail sector but I didn’t feel I had any protection if I requested to refrain from filling prescriptions that had abortifacient potential. [Full Text]

Testimony of pharmacist re: Wisconsin Senate Bill 21

Before the Senate Labour Committee

 Yvonne Klubertanz R.Ph.

The physician was adamant that I had to fill whatever he prescribed, even though I explained my conscience would not allow me to do that. He threatened that my supervisor would find out about this, and I feared that my job could be in jeopardy. I was harassed for my beliefs, and my dignity as a person was attacked.

Thank you for being here to listen to my testimony in support of SB 21. As a pharmacist licensed in the state of WI, I have experienced first hand the fear of being fired for my religious, moral, or ethical beliefs, and realize how important this bill is for the future of pharmacy. First let me explain the current state of the pharmacy profession.

As you may know, there is a shortage of health care workers. Pharmacists, especially, are in very high demand. If pharmacists are being fired or not allowed equal opportunities because they object to dispensing medications that cause abortions or death of an individual person, we are doing society and our great State of Wisconsin an injustice. [Full text]


Pro-life nurse reaches settlement agreement with Oregon health department over request for religious accommodation, abortion

Rutherford Institute Attorneys, Health Department Agree on Resolution to Implement New Policies

Salem, Ore.— Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute have reached a mutually agreeable resolution with the Marion County Health Department on behalf of Janice Turner, a public health nurse who lost her job with the health department due to her deeply held religious belief that life begins at conception. The settlement agreement provides for the enactment of two new policies.  The first policy guarantees that all clients who receive emergency contraception, a.k.a. “the morning after pill,” will be informed in easily understandable terms that it functions by preventing the implantation of a fertilized ovum if conception has already occurred. The second policy, a general statement of employees’ rights to religious belief and expression within the workplace, prevents discrimination based upon religious or moral beliefs regarding abortion or contraception and requires the health department to accommodate those beliefs.  Patterned after existing Conscience Clause legislation, this policy ensures that employees who refuse to accept job duties that contradict their religious or moral beliefs regarding abortion or contraception can do so without fear of being fired, demoted, transferred or disciplined.

Turner, who worked for the Health Department from 1990 until July 2001, had early on in her employment expressed her religious opposition to abortion and requested accommodation from having to discuss or promote abortion procedures with her patients. According to Turner, her initial supervisor accommodated her religious beliefs and allowed her to refer those patients wanting to receive emergency contraception or information about abortion to another nurse. However, in 1995, a new supervisor was appointed to the Women’s Clinic who declared herself to be pro-choice and allegedly acted in a manner intolerant of other viewpoints. According to Turner, this new supervisor stated her expectation that everyone on staff discuss emergency contraception with patients as “a method of contraception that will prevent a pregnancy” and discouraged the nurses from referencing it as a possible abortifacient.  Turner claims that her supervisor continually reiterated her distaste for Turner’s pro-life views regarding emergency contraception and repeatedly told her that she “was not a complete nurse.”  During Turner’s final evaluation, the supervisor warned Turner that her position could be cut in the department budget, and if Turner wanted another position in the department, she would have to be willing to dispense emergency contraception. Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute filed a complaint in Janice Turner’s behalf last year in U.S. District Court.

“This is a timely issue which brings to light the importance of protecting health care workers’ rights, especially those who have sincerely held religious beliefs regarding abortion,” stated John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute.  “It is also heartening to see that women, some of whom may have religious beliefs against taking an abortifacient, will be given complete information regarding the effect of the morning-after pill on a possibly fertilized ovum and its medical implications.”

The Rutherford Institute is an international, nonprofit civil liberties organization committed to defending constitutional and human rights.

Nisha N. Mohammed Ph: (434) 978-3888, ext. 604;
Pager: 800-946-4646, Pin #: 1478257
Email: Nisha N. Mohammed

Project Letter to The Daily News

Nova Scotia, Canada
27 December, 2002

Sean Murphy, Administrator
Protection of Conscience Project

This response to your article Bacon, eggs and peace of mind: Pharmacists, Planned Parenthood push for prescription-free morning-after pill (17 November, 2002) has been delayed by the need to consult the Nova Scotia College of Pharmacists.

With respect to the ‘morning-after-pill’, your article attributed the following quote to Kelly Grover of Planned Parenthood: “Nobody is forcing pharmacists to prescribe this. There is a code of ethics that requires them to refer patients.”

In fact, the College’s Code of Ethics does not require referral. A pharmacist who objects to providing a drug for reasons of conscience is to advise an employer of that fact when being hired. It then becomes the obligation of the employer, not the pharmacist, to find an alternative means to deliver the drug.

The disclosure requirement in the Code of Ethics is intended to ensure that the freedom of conscience of pharmacists is fully respected, without preventing patients from getting drugs or services that they want.  Unscrupulous employers could misuse the disclosure requirement by using it to identify conscientious objectors and deny them employment. One hopes that the College will defend pharmacists against this form of discrimination, as it would be a pity to see Nova Scotians forced to leave home to seek employment in more tolerant environments.

Project Letter to the Telegraph Journal

New Brunswick, Canada
12 November, 2002

Sean Murphy, Administrator
Protection of Conscience Project

Doctors at the hospital in Moncton have decided to perform only abortions they believe necessary for maternal health, so that scarce health care resources can be dedicated to reducing waiting lists for surgery. Dr. Henry Morgentaler calls this “disgusting”. He also accuses his colleagues of unethical conduct because they appear to be imposing their religious or moral views on patients. (Morgentaler calls decision to halt abortions ‘disgusting’ 9 November, 2002)

It is remarkable that Dr. Morgentaler should be disgusted by physicians who perform abortions for ‘health’ reasons, but not abortions for which there is no medical justification. When he decided to break the law against abortion, it was because he decided to follow something he called his “medical conscience”.1 His Moncton colleagues, while they will break no law, are doing the same thing. Baseless diatribes about ‘imposing moral beliefs’ are unfair and do nothing to improve health care in New Brunswick.

Dr. Morgentaler has also misrepresented the Code of Ethics of the Canadian Medical Association by implying that it obliges doctors to provide abortions. It does not, nor does it require physicians to referfor abortions or other morally controversial procedures.

Finally, Dr. Morgentaler clearly applies his own moral views in his own medical practice. Upon what basis would he deny his colleagues the same freedom?

Notes: 1.  Pelrine, Eleanor Wright, Morgentaler: The Doctor Who Couldn’t Turn Away. Canada: Gage Publishing, 1975, p. 29

No More Pro-Choice Movement

US Conference of Catholic Bishops
11 October, 2002

Reproduced with permission

Richard M.  Doerflinger*

Once there were basically two sides to the abortion debate.

One side said that, whatever the moral status of unborn life may be, a woman and her physician must be free to make a choice about abortion. The other side said that, whatever value the struggle for greater freedom may have in other contexts, responsible freedom for women and physicians must stop short     of destroying the life of an innocent child. Not surprisingly, these sides called themselves “pro-choice” and “pro-life” respectively.

Those were simpler times. For however useful these labels once were, it’s becoming ridiculous to refer to abortion advocacy groups as “pro-choice.”

This was already clear to anyone following the debate on U.S. funding of the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) a few months ago. President Bush ultimately decided not to give this group any funds this year, because it helps the Chinese government implement a population program that uses coerced abortion and involuntary sterilization. His decision was greeted by howls of protest from pro-abortion groups, who ditched their commitment to women’s “reproductive freedom” to defend their allies in the population control movement.

More recently the coerced-abortion agenda has come home to guide domestic policy. When the House of Representatives debated a modest measure called the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA) last month, the idea that each individual should have “freedom to choose” whether to be involved in abortion was denounced as heresy by “pro-choice” groups.

ANDA builds on a law that Congress passed in 1996 to protect medical residency programs from being forced by government bodies to provide abortions or abortion training. It clarifies and extends that law to make sure that this protection covers the full range of health care providers, so everyone can make his or her own conscientious decision whether to  participate in abortions. But to hear pro-abortion spokespersons talk, you would have thought that abortion was about to be declared a capital crime.     If  women can only get abortions from those actually willing to provide them,  they seemed to say, there will be almost no abortions  – an interesting comment on how widely accepted abortion is in the medical profession!

Pro-abortion groups opposed every aspect of this bill — including its effort to extend the conscience protection now enjoyed by doctors to cover other health professionals, such as nurses, who are mostly female. In opposing this modest step toward equal treatment, abortion advocates managed  to promote an agenda that was anti-life, “anti-choice,” and anti-woman all at the same time. Fortunately most House members ignored their tirades and approved the bill, which now goes to the Senate.

One bumper sticker produced by pro-abortion groups says: “Against abortion?     Don’t have one.” That slogan always ignored the unborn child, who has no opportunity to choose not to “have one.” But now women and doctors may join  the child in having their choice disregarded, unless pro-life legislators are vigilant.

Against abortion? If you’re in China, have one anyway. If you’re a health professional in the U.S., perform one anyway. Oddly, that is now what being  “pro-choice” is all about.

Pluralism, Religion and Public Policy

Preston Manning*

An address delivered at the McGill University conference on Pluralism, Religion and Public Policy.

People of faith – and there are millions of such people in Canada – need guidelines on how to bring faith perspectives to bear on public policy in a winsome rather than an offensive way. And public policy makers in our pluralistic society – many of whom regard faith perspectives with suspicion if not outright hostility – need to learn how to incorporate such perspectives into their deliberations rather than exclude them. . . 
Full Text

A Doctor’s Choice

The Washington Times
25 September, 2002.
Reproduced with permission

Dick Armey

Dick Armey was the Majority Leader (Republican)  in the U.S. House of Representatives when the following opinion column was written.

The vast majority of all hospitals – public and private – do not get involved in abortion. In fact, 86 percent of all hospitals did not  perform a single abortion last year.

There is a reason for that. Most  health care providers are interested in protecting and saving human life, not taking it. Government shouldn’t force them to take part in  actions – such as performing abortions – against their beliefs, morals or religion.

In 1996, Congress enacted legislation ending state and federal discrimination against health care providers that do not perform abortions.  In a series of court opinions and rulings, activist  judges are flouting the will of Congress and ordering hospitals, not to promote life, but to end it.  They are telling doctors and nurses to suspend their most strongly held beliefs and perform a practice so heinous that even progressive  hospitals have rejected.

So today, the House of Representatives will consider the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA)  and right the wrong perpetrated by liberal courts.  The bill signals Congress’ intent in one simple yet powerful message – no health care provider should ever be forced to do something that violates their moral, ethical, or religious beliefs.

While there is deep disagreement in America about whether abortion  should be legal, nearly all Americans would agree that no one should be forced to have an abortion or to perform an abortion if they don’t want to. That, however, hasn’t stopped some on the extreme fringe of this  issue from trying to force hospitals to provide abortions anyway.

Valley Hospital in Palmer, Alaska, is one such example. Located about 50  miles east of Anchorage, the hospital’s board implemented a policy in 1990 barring abortion procedures except in cases of rape, incest and danger to the life of the mother.  The hospital was sued, and a judge arbitrarily ruled that because Valley Hospital received some government money, it was a “quasi-government entity” and had to provide         abortions. The hospital appealed the case to the Alaska Supreme Court, citing a state law that protected its right of conscience.  The Supreme Court ruled against the hospital and, in one fell swoop, threw out the state’s conscience law.

Congress’ conscience guarantees were also overturned in New Jersey. When Rancocas Hospital in Willingboro, N.J., was purchased by Our Lady of Lourdes Healthcare Services, a new policy was instituted against  performing abortions. Our Lady of Lourdes, as the name suggests, is a Catholic agency, and the Catholic church believes abortion is wrong.  The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey sued. It argued that  if Our Lady of Lourdes didn’t want to allow abortions in its hospital, it should provide a separate building on the hospital’s campus for  that purpose. This, obviously, made no sense to the hospital. The ACLU also argued that the hospital was duty-bound to provide abortions because its original mission statement called for “comprehensive” health care services. The ACLU conveniently forgot that when the mission statement was written in 1961, abortion was a felony.

So much is at stake in this bill. Without its passage, the viability and integrity of our country’s health care system are in jeopardy. In this age of managed care and  skyrocketing health care costs, hospitals are merging in order to survive. If courts demand that pro-abortion policies be a condition of merging – as a number already have – there will be fewer of these cost-saving partnerships.

Many of these alliances involve denominational hospitals – hospitals  principally organized to serve the poor and needy. They have been and will continue to be the first victims of court-imposed abortion mandates, for in many cases they cannot practice medicine at all under these conditions.  The poor and vulnerable will be the ultimate casualties when these facilities have to close.

The Unfree

 The National Review
25 September, 2002

Reproduced with permission

Katherine Jean Lopez

It’s still legal to oppose abortion, isn’t it?

You might think that any piece of legislation with the word “non-discrimination” in it is just about automatically headed for easy congressional passage. What politician wants to be on record as being in favor of discrimination?

Well, it’s just not so. At least if the issues involved are religion and abortion.

The House of Representatives is set to take up the (ANDA) this week. The goal of the bill is to protect Americans’ right to not have to pay for or otherwise  participate in abortions. Specifically, ANDA seeks to protect religious hospitals and other health-care providers (clinics, insurers, nurses, doctors) who are opposed, in conscience, to abortion, from having to have anything to do with them.

This has been one of the hottest “reproductive rights” issues over the last few years. Very few statehouses haven’t seen coercive bills seeking to force religious – often Catholic-hospitals to provide the whole gamut of so-called “reproductive health” services, including abortion, all in the name of “access.” Currently 49 states (the exception is Vermont) have some kind of conscience protection for health-care providers, though none of them are as comprehensive as the proposed ANDA bill-which covers all health-care “entities.”

In this regard, one of the favorite topics among abortion advocates recently has been hospital mergers. Planned Parenthood argues, in an action alert send out to supporters this week, that health-care institutions, whatever their affiliation, “operate in a secular sphere, and employ and serve people of diverse backgrounds and faiths. Thus, their claimed right to refuse to provide these services imposes serious burdens on people who do not share their religious views.”

The ANDA bill, says PP, “would allow the ‘conscience’ of the entity to  trump the ‘conscience’ and needs of the women they serve. . . . This is  wrong.”

What is not wrong, however, in Planned Parenthood’s estimation, is “the  entity” – i.e. actual private organizations and Americans – being forced by law to provide services that the people who make up the organizations  believe to be morally prohibited. In fact, these hospitals often believe the very essence of their work is founded on an opposition to the taking  of a human life. It’s a principle that all of medicine – whether the practitioners were religious, agnostic, or atheist – once considered at its very core.

Even a nonsectarian hospital can get in legal trouble  under the current regime. In Alaska, Valley Hospital’s (elected) board decided that it did not want to continue letting a community OB/GYN use hospital facilities to perform abortions. The board’s decision meant that abortion was no longer available at the hospital except in cases of “rape, incest, and danger to  the life of the mother – exactly the same policy the federal government  has had in Medicaid and its other health programs for many years,” as       board member Karen Vosburgh told the House Energy and Commerce committee this summer.

As Vosburgh told the committee, an Alaska court’s subsequent decision (upheld by the state supreme court) to prohibit Valley Hospital from  making such a decision “potentially places all hospitals in our state in a  ‘Catch-22’ situation. If you are a non-religious hospital you have no First Amendment claim of religious freedom, so you must provide abortions.  If you are a religious hospital with a ‘free exercise’ claim, respect for your right of conscience may be seen as showing favoritism to religion, so you may still have to provide abortions.”

It’s just not Planned Parenthood and the overt abortion-advocacy groups  actively opposing ANDA. The American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Project sent a representative to the Hill earlier in the summer to argue that the bill would unfairly restrict women from abortion, contraception, and even simple counseling.

The groups lobbying against ANDA have grabbed the talking points from their anti-abortion folder without focusing on the actual legislation they are so enthusiastically opposing. In fact, if this were not the narrow clarification that ANDA is, pro-lifers would likely be debating amongst themselves, some saying that the bill does not go far enough into specifics, into the realm of abortifacient so-called contraception, for instance. But these are battles for another day-having nothing to do with this piece of legislation.

Simply put, this isn’t a bill about abortion politics. It’s a bill about freedom. What abortion advocates have been arguing when it comes to “access” is that they would see rather a hospital merger not go through-and a hospital potentially shut down – than allow a hospital to choose not to participate in what its employees and founders believe to be  murder of a human life. For them, this is not about freedom. Their opposition to ANDA is a backdoor way to oppose any restrictions on women getting abortions whenever, wherever. As Brigham Young University Law School professor Lynn Wardle has put it, “zealous abortion activists continue to try to use the powers of government to compel participation in and payment for and coverage of abortion. Specifically, they try to compel hospitals, clinics, provider groups, and health-care insurers to provide facilities  for, personnel for, and funding for abortion.”

In fact, despite the scare stories from those opposed to ANDA, federally funded abortions would still be possible under ANDA. Nor is this a bill that seeks to reverse Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that okayed abortion.  As a  fact sheet put out by the Catholic Bishops’ pro-life department notes, “States can ensure access to any abortions they fund without forcing specific providers against their will to provide these particular  abortions. A requirement that a state will contract only with a provider that offers absolutely every reimbursable service would be an enormous barrier to patients’ access to care, as few providers in any state could meet such a test.”

The case for the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act is a simple one, despite the heated rhetoric. As Pennsylvania congressman Joe Pitts put it at a hearing in July, “Abortion is an elective surgery. It is not prenatal care.  It is not basic health care, as some of our friends would like us to believe. Private hospitals should be able to decide what types of elective surgery they wish to offer. If they don’t want to provide abortions, they shouldn’t have to.”

That simplicity might give the bill a decent shot at passage. Tough sells on pro-life issues, like Republicans Tom Davis and Fred Upton, are cosponsoring ANDA. And some leading pro-life members – along with the Catholic bishops, an important voice on this issue in particular, given that there are over 600 Catholic hospitals in the U.S. (never mind other Catholic health-care entities) – are willing to push for this as a top priority for passage before the end of the year (likely as part of a lame-duck session, after the election). Rep. Pitts tells NRO: “I think there will be overwhelming support for the bill when it comes up for a vote.” In fact, as Pitts points out, even President Clinton signed a less comprehensive conscience-clause bill in1996. Cases like the Alaska one, however, make the need for ANDA clear.

In fact, for some members, ANDA is not at all different from what they voted for in 1996. Senator Olympia Snowe said on the Senate floor in 1996:   “[The amendment] does protect those institutions and those individuals who do not want to get involved in the performance or training of abortion when it is contrary to their beliefs . . . I do not think anyone would disagree with the fact – and I am pro-choice on this matter, but I do not  think anybody would disagree with the fact that an institution or an  individual who does not want to perform an abortion should do so contrary to their beliefs.”

She didn’t foresee how courts would interpret the law: as not including hospitals, because they are “quasi-public” entities. Of course, prospects in the Senate – as is so often the case – are murkier than in the House.

As Lynn Wardle noted in his testimony this summer, ANDA “is a very small,  but very important, step in the right direction.” Wardle tells NRO, “The  basic issue in the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act is forced abortion. A forced abortion occurs not only when a woman is forced to have an abortion  she does not want, but also when a health-care provider is forced to provide or participate in an abortion against her will. Even the Supreme  Court abortion cases are based on protecting voluntary choice. The right of individuals and organizations of individuals to choose in accord with their conscience to not have and to not participate in abortion must be protected against extremists who are trying to coerce others to provide abortion services that extremists want but which others find morally  repugnant.  That is what ANDA is about. It protects freedom of choice, the freedom not to be forced to perform or support abortion  against one’s moral beliefs.”

But then, for some, there are issues much more important than choice and non-discrimination: like making sure abortion is anything but rare. That’s why National Organization for Women calls ANDA “one of the most harmful  bills yet proposed.”