US Bishops welcome passage of Conscience protection legislation

The US Catholic Bishops have welcomed the passage of legislation designed to protect the conscience rights of pro-life Americans who are against funding abortions or participating in terminations as medical practitioners. 

The US House of Representatives passed the Conscience Protection Act on July 13 by 245 to 182 votes. A key component of the Act states that “the Federal Government, and any State or local government that receives Federal financial assistance, may not penalise, retaliate against, or otherwise discriminate against a health care provider on the basis that the provider does not perform, refer for, pay for, or otherwise participate in abortion; provide or sponsor abortion coverage; or facilitate or make arrangements for any of the activities specified in this subsection.”

In a joint statement responding to the vote, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan and Archbishop William Lori, chairmen of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, respectively, said: “We’re grateful to House Speaker Paul Ryan for bringing the Conscience Protection Act to a vote, to all the co-sponsors for their leadership and to those members of both parties who support the civil right of conscience. 

“Even those who disagree on the life issue should be able to respect the conscience rights of those who wish not to be involved in supporting abortion.” 

If the Act is enacted successfully into law, the prelates added, it will “ensure that those providing much-needed health care and health coverage can continue to do so without being forced to help destroy innocent unborn children”.