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Protection of Conscience Project

www.consciencelaws.org

Service, not Servitude
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U.S. House of Representatives

Bill HR _ (2012)

Appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and related agencies (2013)

Introduction

An appropriations bill authorizes funding for federal departments of the U.S. government. Since the departments require funds to operate, one method of securing statutory support for freedom of conscience is to attach conditions to an appropriations bill.  That is the purpose of Sections 537 and 538 (below). [Full text of bill]

SEC. 537.

(a)(1) None of the funds made available under this Act, or under any Act appropriating funds to the Departments of Labor or Health and Human Services, shall be used to assess fines or penalties or otherwise enforce any provision of P.L. 111-148 or P.L. 111-152, or any regulation or guidance based on such provision, that-

(A) requires a health plan, group health plan, or group or individual health insurance policy to cover abortion or other items or services, if the issuer or purchaser of the policy or sponsor of the health plan or group health plan (or, in the case of student health insurance, institution of higher education) objects to such items or services on the basis of religious beliefs or moral convictions; or

(B) requires the objecting issuer, purchaser, sponsor (or, in the case of student health insurance, institution of higher education) to offer, purchase, provide or facilitate such coverage.

(2) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prohibit the Secretary from issuing regulations or other guidance to ensure that health plans or group health plans excluding abortion or other items or services under this subsection shall have an aggregate actuarial value at least equivalent to that of plans at the same level of coverage that do not exclude such items or services.

(3) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to permit a health plan or provider to act in a manner inconsistent with either of subparagraph (B) or (D) of section 1302(b)(4) of Public Law 111-148.

 (b)(1) The Attorney General, or any person or entity adversely affected by an actual or threatened violation of subsection (a), may, in a civil action, obtain appropriate relief with regard to such actual or threatened violation.

 (2) An action under this section may be commenced without regard to whether the party commencing the action has sought or exhausted available administrative remedies.

(3)(A) An action under this section may be maintained against a party who is a Federal or State governmental entity. Money damages and any other relief may be awarded against State and Federal governmental entities to the same extent as they may be awarded against
other persons and entities.

 (B) For the purposes of this subsection-

(i) the term ''State governmental entity'' means a state, or any agency or other governmental unit or authority of a State; and

(ii) the term ''State'' shall have the same meaning in this section as in 42 USC § 201.

 (4) In an action under this section, the court shall grant-

 (A) all necessary equitable and legal relief, including, where appropriate, declaratory relief and compensatory damages, to prevent the occurrence, continuance, or repetition of the designated violation and to compensate for losses resulting from the designated violation; and

(B) to a prevailing plaintiff, reasonable attorneys' fees and litigation expenses as part of the costs.

SEC. 538.
(a) IN GENERAL.-Section 245 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 238n) is amended-

 (1) in the section heading, by striking ''AND LICENSING OF PHYSICIANS'' and inserting '', LICENSING, AND PRACTICE OF PHYSICIANS AND OTHER HEALTH CARE ENTITIES'';

(2) in subsection (a), by amending paragraph (1) to read as follows:

"(1) the entity refuses-

"(A) to undergo training in the performance of induced abortions;

"(B) to require or provide such training;

"(C) to perform, participate in, provide coverage of, or pay for induced abortions; or

"(D) to provide referrals for such training or such abortions;"

(3) in subsection (b), by striking "an accreditation standards that requires" and inserting "an accreditation standard that requires";

 (4) in subsection (c), by amending paragraphs (1) and (2) to read as follows:

"(1) The term 'financial assistance', with respect to a government program, means governmental payments to cover the cost of health care services or benefits, or other Federal payments, grants, or loans to promote or otherwise facilitate health-related activities.

"(2) The term 'health care entity' includes an individual physician or other health professional, a
postgraduate physician training program, a participant in a program of training in the health professions, a hospital, a provider sponsored organization, a health maintenance organization, an accountable care organization, a health insurance plan, any other kind of health care facility, organization, or plan, and an entity that provides or authorizes referrals for health care services.";

(5) in subsection (c), by adding at the end the following:

"(4) The term 'State or local government that receives Federal financial assistance' includes any agency or other governmental unit of a State or local government if such government receives Federal financial assistance.";

 (6) by redesignating subsection (c) as subsection (d); and (7) by inserting after subsection (b) the following:

"(c) ADMINISTRATION.-The Secretary shall designate the Director of the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services-

"(1) to receive complaints alleging a violation of this section; and

"(2) to pursue the investigation of such complaints, in coordination with the Attorney General."

 (b) REMEDIES.-Title II of the Public Health Service 2 Act (42 U.S.C. 202 et seq.) is amended by inserting after section 245 the following:

"SEC. 245A. CIVIL ACTION FOR CERTAIN VIOLATIONS.

"(a) IN GENERAL.-A qualified party may, in a civil action, obtain appropriate relief with regard to a designated violation.

"(b) DEFINITIONS.-In this section-

"(1) the term 'qualified party' means-

"(A) the Attorney General; or

"(B) any person or entity adversely affected by the designated violation; and

"(2) the term 'designated violation' means an actual or threatened violation of section 245 of this Act or any of subsections (b) through (e) of section 401 of the Health Programs Extension Act of 1973.

"(c) ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES NOT REQUIRED.- An action under this section may be commenced without regard to whether the party commencing the action has sought or exhausted available administrative remedies.

"(d) DEFENDANTS IN ACTIONS UNDER THIS SECTION MAY INCLUDE GOVERNMENTAL ENTITIES AS WELL AS OTHERS.-

"(1) GENERALLY.-An action under this section may be maintained against a party who is a Federal or State governmental entity. Money damages and any other relief may be awarded against State and Federal governmental entities to the same extent as they may be awarded against other persons and entities.

"(2) DEFINITION.-For the purposes of this subsection, the term 'State governmental entity' means a State, a local government within a State, or any agency or other governmental unit or authority of a State or of such a local government.

"(e) NATURE OF RELIEF.-The court shall grant-

"(1) all necessary equitable and legal relief, including, where appropriate, declaratory relief and compensatory damages, to prevent the occurrence, continuance, or repetition of the designated violation and to compensate for losses resulting from the designated violation; and

"(2) to a prevailing plaintiff, reasonable attorneys fees and litigation expenses as part of the costs."

 

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