Anti-abortion lawmakers push ‘Conscience Protection’ bill

Anti-abortion lawmakers push ‘Conscience Protection’ bill
© Greg Nash

Anti-abortion lawmakers in the House and Senate are pushing for language in the end-of-year spending bill that they say would protect health-care professionals who don’t want to take part in abortions because of their personal objections.

The Conscience Protection Act would allow health-care providers like nurses and doctors to sue if they’re coerced into participating in abortions or if they face discrimination at work for refusing to do so.

It would also provide legal recourse for hospitals, health systems, religious charities, churches and insurance companies who are required to participate in or provide coverage for abortion.

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Current law prohibits discrimination against health-care providers who refuse to participate in abortions, but doesn’t allow for those who say they’re discriminated against to pursue legal action.

“Congress needs to act now,” said Rep. Diane BlackDiane Lynn BlackRyan picks his negotiating team for tax cut bill Overnight Finance: House approves motion to go to tax conference — with drama | GOP leaders to consider Dec. 30 spending bill | Justices skeptical of ban on sports betting | Mulvaney won't fire official who sued him Lawmakers take to Twitter to spread the Thanksgiving cheer MORE (R-Tenn.), a sponsor of the bill and the chairwoman of the House Budget Committee.

“It is time for this comprehensive, reasonable and modest bill to be voted on so we can allow millions of Americans who believe as I do in the sanctity of life to abide by those beliefs without having them trampled on by their own government,” said Black, who is running to be governor of her state.

The bill’s language was included in the fiscal year 2018 House appropriations package passed earlier this year, and supporters say they’re pushing for it to be included in the end-of-year spending package in December.

Congress must approve a new spending bill by Dec. 8 or the government will shut down.

The conservative House Freedom Caucus and the Pro-Life Caucus have pushed unsuccessfully for similar language to be included in past year-end spending bills.

Supporters of abortion rights argue the proposal would facilitate discrimination against women seeking abortion care.