"Abortion Non-Discrimination Act"
Threatens Women's Health
Sweeping Refusal Clause Strips State
Autonomy And Jeopardizes Women's Reproductive Health
Planned Parenthood News Release
December 8, 2004
Washington, DC — Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) today
challenged President Bush's signing of the Weldon Amendment, or so-called
"Abortion Non-Discrimination Act" (ANDA).
Women's health -
including reproductive health - depends on much more than the provision of
abortion. However, abortion will continue to be available from any
health care entity willing to provide it.
The legislation, originally proposed by
the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and added as an amendment to the final
version of the omnibus appropriations bill, will allow health care organizations
to refuse to comply with existing federal, state or local laws pertaining to
ANDA was originally
proposed in 2002 by several legislators. It was supported by the US
Conference of Catholic Bishops and other organizations which respect freedom of
Most existing state and federal laws do not
compel health care workers to participate in abortion. In fact,
conscientious objection to abortion is legally protected in most states.
The amendment is aimed at reinforcing existing law by responding to attacks on
freedom of conscience by groups like Planned Parenthood.
"This amendment's Orwellian name makes it
sound as if it protects women seeking abortions from discrimination. In fact, it
discriminates against them," said PPFA President Gloria Feldt.
Women who want
abortions will continue to be able to obtain them from health care workers and
institutions willing to provide them. Their freedom of choice is
"It also discriminates against
health care providers as well as state and local governments that want to
provide comprehensive women's health care. It allows any health care provider or
institution, religious or otherwise, to refuse to provide a much-needed
reproductive health care service."
providers who want to provide abortion can continue to do so. The only
thing discouraged by the amendment is the coercion of health care
providers to force them to provide or facilitate abortion.
"The vast majority of Americans oppose
allowing health care entities to deny services to women, even if those entities
claim their refusal is based on religious or moral grounds, which ANDA does not
It is unlikely that
most Americans would force health care workers to participate in abortion.
Were Planned Parenthood successful in it campaign to force health care workers
to participate in abortion, it would set a dangerous precedent for assisted
suicide, euthanasia, and artificial reproductive technology.
"This sweeping federal refusal clause will
allow the whims of a corporate entity to trump the conscience and very real
medical needs of women nationwide."
is a corporate entity. Like all corporate entities and human
organizations, it has policies that reflect the morality and goals of its
members. ANDA makes it more difficult for Planned Parenthood to impose its
morality and goals on unwilling health care workers nationwide.
"Simply put, you ought to be able to trust
your doctor or hospital to give you a full range of options and respect your
health care choices. ANDA lets them discriminate against you."
providers who wish to provide or facilitate abortions will continue to be be
able to do so. Patients will not be prevented from seeking them out or
requesting their assistance.
ANDA was added to the appropriations bill by
anti-choice Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL). The bill provides a sweeping exemption from
existing laws relating to safe and legal abortion services.
Most existing laws
do not compel health care workers to participate in abortion. Most states
have laws that recognize conscientious objection to abortion, but these are
unevenly drafted and under attack by groups like Planned Parenthood.
Health care entities, as defined by the law,
include hospitals, provider-sponsored organizations, health maintenance
organizations, health insurance plans or any other kind of health care
facilities, organizations or plans.
Feldt said, "PPFA and others will be working to see
the law blocked in the courts or repealed in Congress, where Senate Majority
Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) has promised Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) a vote to
repeal the bill. We will also continue to work with our allies in Congress
and across the pro-choice movement to strengthen legislative protections on
reproductive rights and health through measures like the Putting Prevention
First Act (PPFA), which promotes family planning programs.
It appears that Planned Parenthood is working to see
freedom of conscience completely suppressed for health care workers.
"If ANDA's anti-choice supporters really cared
about preventing abortions, they would help us do more to support family
planning instead of penalizing women and service providers with vague, unfair,
and dangerous legislation."
If Planned Parenthood really cared about freedom of
choice, it would respect the choices of health care workers and institutions
that choose not to provide or facilitate abortions.
ANDA does not prevent anyone from helping Planned
Parenthood to achieve its goals - except the goal of forcing people to assist in
or facilitate abortion.
Legislators Reward Radical Right with Dangerous Anti-Abortion Provision
National Organization for Women
November 22, 2004
Legal recognition and protection of freedom of conscience is
not a 'reward' in a liberal democracy, but a reasonable expectation of
The amendment (ANDA) does
not prevent abortions. It discourages coercion of health care workers.
After heated debate in Congress Saturday night, anti-abortion legislators
bullied into law broad new limitations on women's reproductive health care.
The passage of legislation by
majority vote after a debate in an elected legislature is not bullying. It
is an ordinary proceeding in democratic government.
The sweeping language, which was slipped into the massive budget bill, makes all
health care providers eligible for federal dollars — regardless of their
unwillingness to provide a full-range of health care services for women.
Federal dollars are equally
available to those who provide abortion and those who do not.
Federal dollars would be denied
only to authorities that deny freedom of conscience to health care workers.
House and Senate Republicans added this language to the 1,000 plus page spending
bill late in the afternoon on Friday — allowing no time for reproductive rights
supporters to react to the sudden attack. The National Organization for Women is
appalled by this tactic, a despicable move by the Republican leadership to thank
its right-wing base by surrendering hard-fought and often life-saving medical
care options for women and girls.
The people who will benefit
from this provision are health care workers who wish to live and work in
accordance with their conscientious convictions. Presumably this includes
supporters of both of the main US political parties.
"Right-wing legislators are sacrificing legal health care and jeopardizing
women's health to please their base," said NOW President Kim Gandy. "This is a
hypocritical act of the so-called party of 'moral values' and 'compassionate
The NOW president appears to
miss the hypocrisy involved in claiming to be 'pro-choice' while denying the
freedom to choose to anyone who disagrees with her.
Abortion continues to be
available from any willing health care provider. If NOW is concerned that
present availability of abortion is not sufficient, it should deal with the
problem without asking the government to coerce or discriminate against those
unwilling to do what NOW wants done.
The provision permits health care entities that refuse to provide abortion
services, counseling or referrals (even in cases of rape, incest, or danger to
the woman's life) to collect federal, state and local tax dollars. It overrules
state and local regulations requiring full coverage for such services.
It also permits entities that
provide all of these services to collect tax dollars.
Tax dollars are denied only
to those who suppress the freedom of conscience of health care workers.
Current federal law, previously aimed at protecting Roman Catholic doctors who
do not want to undergo abortion training or perform abortions, now provides a
farther-reaching 'conscience clause.' The new language expands the exemption to
all health care providers, including hospitals, doctors, clinics, HMOs, and
insurers that profess a corporate or individual objection to providing abortion
or reproductive health services.
This appears to reflect
anti-Catholic bigotry, inasmuch as Roman Catholic doctors are hardly the only
faith group opposed to abortion. The Protection of Conscience Project
Advisory Board includes representatives from different faith traditioins.
Even atheists may be opposed to it for moral reasons.
"This will allow HMO bureaucrats to deny women their constitutional right to
reproductive health care," said Gandy. "The wrath of the anti-abortion movement
is going to send women back farther than the back alleys — we're heading toward
the black market."
There is no constitutional
right to compel another person to perform or facilitate an abortion. There
is a constitutional right to freedom of conscience; NOW bureaucrats should not
deny it to their fellow citizens.
Abortion - supported even by
tax dollars - will continue to be available through any willing health care
provider. Back alleys, black markets and purple prose are unnecessary.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., courageously threatened to use procedural tactics
to slow Senate debate in protest. Joining Boxer in defending women's health care
against the Republican leadership were Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Sen. Dianne
Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine. A compromise was
eventually reached with Senate Majority Bill Frist, R-Tenn., after he promised
to schedule a vote on the abortion provision when Congress meets next spring. It
seems unlikely, however, that this provision will be overturned, since it takes
many more votes to repeal an existing law than to prevent original passage.
Why this would have been
courageous is not explained. It is unlikely that anyone would have fired
Senator Boxer for pursuing her conscientious convictions.
"This is just the beginning of a battle to save women's reproductive health
care," said Gandy. "We are calling on all NOW activists and supporters to help
us stop this sacrifice of women's bodies and women's rights to repay political
favors to a vocal minority."
Freedom of conscience is part
of the birthright of all citizens in a liberal democracy, not a 'political
favour' to be granted or denied by political activists from any part of the
National Abortion Rights Action League
(NARAL) News Release
November 19, 2004 Commentary
Washington, DC) - In an outrageous back-room
maneuver, anti-choice legislators inserted a major new restriction on women’s
freedom into an omnibus spending bill. This latest move ensures that a
significant piece of the anti-choice agenda will become law without a single
hearing or an independent vote in the Senate.
Preventing coercion of health care workers is not "a major new restriction on
women's freedom."free to seeWomen continue to
be free to seek and obtain abortions They should not be "free" to force
others to provide them.
The measure at
issue is a Federal Refusal Clause allowing HMOs, for-profit hospitals and other
health care companies to bar physicians from even talking to their patients
Physicians remain free to discuss abortion with
patients, but the amendment insures that they cannot be forced to recommend,
provide or facilitate the procedure.
The House included
the Federal Refusal Clause as a "rider" on a massive health funding bill earlier
this year, but the Senate did not go along with the stealth strategy. In the
closed-door negotiations this week, however, anti-choice lawmakers slipped it
into the larger omnibus appropriations legislation. This measure is the third
major piece of the anti-choice agenda the Bush crowd has gotten through in 12
It is difficult to see how something agreed to in
negotiations between the two political parties could be said to have been
Refusal Clause, essentially a backdoor gag rule, is not restricted to the actual
abortion services, but also allows companies not to pay for abortions, counsel,
or even refer women clients to another doctor.
No person of integrity wishes to recommend,
facilitate or pay for an act that he finds morally objectionable, whether it be
abortion, torture, assisted suicide or euthanasia
proposal strips funds from federal programs, or state or local governments,
merely because they attempt to enforce their laws or policies.
The amendment threatens only programmes or agencies
that try to force health care workers to provide or facilitate abortion.
America Interim President Elizabeth Cavendish said, “This move highlights the
true agenda of the far right, which controls Congress and the White House -
eliminating a woman’s right to choose. However, they do so in a sneaky back-door
fashion because they know the majority of Americans are pro-choice and would not
stand for such infringements on their rights. ”
The amendment does not eliminate a woman's right to
choose. Women remain free to choose abortion if they wish.
The amendment guarantees freedom of choice for health care workers who do not want to participate in abortion. The
majority of Americans are probably pro-choice on this issue, even if NARAL is