By a vote of 245 to 182 the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Conscience Protection Act, a bill designed to prevent government discrimination against and prevent the suppression of the freedom of conscience and religion of individuals or groups unwilling to provide or facilitate abortion for reasons of conscience or religion. The bill adds a right of action by victims, the lack of which has prevented victims from defending their freedom in court. President Barack Obama is expected to veto the legislation. [CNS News]
President Barack Obama and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius held a news conference today and promised to revise a regulation that has ignited a firestorm of protest across the United States. However, the details provided in the White House “Fact Sheet” suggest that the administration is simply reaffirming the existing regulation while making a promise work with objecting institutions to find a compromise during a one-year grace period. This is essentially what Secretary Sebelius announced on 20 January. What is new is the suggestion that coverage might be offered by insurance companies without the active participation of employers who object. When developing the proposal, the administration did not consult with the Unites States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which has been the most determined and vociferous critic of the regulation.
The proposal was not published in the United States Federal Register on 10 February, as promised by the White House “Fact Sheet”.