Conscience Protections Threatened, Public Comment Critical!

On February 27, the Obama Administration announced its intention to remove current regulations (implemented by the Bush Administration in December 2008) protecting conscience rights in health care. On March 10, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) then issued a formal proposal to rescind these regulations, thereby activating a 30-day period for the public to submit comments.

The National Committee for a Human Life Amendment (NCHLA) has devised an Action Alert (nchla.org/actiondisplay.asp?ID=271) explaining why the regulations should be retained and providing directions on how to submit comments. E-mail messages can be sent directly through the NCHLA Action Center. A preset message is provided, to which the sender can add personal comments. Please submit your comments before the April 9 deadline!

In addition, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has set up a special site with resources on conscience protection, including a link to the NCHLA Action Center message. See www.usccb.org/conscienceprotection. Parishes are encouraged to display this link on their webpages.

Highlighting the critical importance of the current conscience regulations, Cardinal Francis George, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said they are "one part of the range of legal protections for health care workers - for doctors, nurses and others - who have objections in conscience to being involved in abortion and other killing procedures that are against how they live their faith in God." Cardinal George expressed concern that removing these conscience regulations "would be the first step in moving our country from democracy to despotism."

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