“In failing to protect medical conscience and religious liberty and in departing from the truths about the person, H.R. 5 undermines the very thing it purports to defend: the true equal dignity of every person.”
For Immediate Release
March 2, 2021
Medical conscience and religious freedom in health care is constantly under attack, with medical professionals experiencing ever greater coercion and persecution due to their moral or religious beliefs, the Little Sisters of the Poor under threat of renewed lawsuits, and the new presidential administration actively working to undo pro-life and religious freedom protections.
Into this mix, two diametrically opposed bills have been introduced into Congress: one to protect religious freedom and one, which passed the House recently, to in essence strip it away.
“The newly introduced Conscience Protection Act would provide vital protections for the civil rights of medical conscience and religious freedom in health care,” said Louis Brown, JD, Executive Director of the Christ Medicus Foundation (CMF). “Every doctor, nurse, medical professional, and health care entity has the right to care for their patients consistent with their moral or religious convictions. The right of medical conscience defends the basic civil right of medical professionals and safeguards the health of patients by ensuring that medical professionals use their best medical judgment in providing care,” said Brown.
Jordan Buzza, JD, of CMF added, “Like all other significant civil rights laws, meaningful protection of the right of conscience requires that aggrieved victims of a conscience violation have the right to file a lawsuit in federal court. Where there is the sacred right of conscience, there should be a remedy in federal court. No doctor, nurse, medical professional, or other medical practice should be discriminated against or effectively forced to close because they refuse to perform, refer, or participate in practices that violate their moral or religious convictions. We commend U.S. Senator James Lankford for introducing this vital civil rights legislation in the Senate this week.”
Specifically, the Conscience Protection Act provides stronger protections in federal law for the civil right of conscience and religious freedom for medical practitioners, health care professionals, and health care entities. Importantly, the legislation also provides a robust private right of action for victims of medical conscience violations to seek justice in federal court.
The need for the Conscience Protection Act is even more urgent because of the recent passage of H.R. 5, the “Equality Act”, in the U.S. House of Representatives. This legislation would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Every person is entitled to love, respect, and the just legal protection of their rights. At the same time, H.R. 5 is fatally flawed in several respects, including its failure to respect right of conscience and religious liberty under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Additionally, the law disregards the biological and scientific truths about the human person and the natural law foundations of civil rights. H.R. 5 would cause medical professionals to be coerced into providing medical procedures that they genuinely believe to be medically unethical and harmful, both physically and psychologically,” said Brown.
“Our country’s Constitution and Bill of Rights have persevered because they are built on the the natural law and each person’s inalienable rights and human dignity. Our nation’s legal civil rights movement has been effective because it is based on the truth about the human person. American civil rights laws are so powerful because they are founded on human dignity and the objective truth of human freedom,” said Brown.
Michael Vacca, JD, Director of Ministry, Bioethics, and Member Experience for CMF noted, “H.R. 5 sets aside the valuable and beautiful differences between men and women and the biological basis for sex. Furthermore, the legislation would all but eliminate the right of conscience and religious freedom for doctors, nurses, other medical professionals and the patients they serve. It would coerce medical providers into providing services that many physicians believe are unethical, physically and psychologically harmful, contrary to scientific and biological realities, and against their best medical judgment. Any defenses that doctors, nurses, and health care entities could take under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act are preemptively prohibited by the proposed legislation. H.R. 5 likely would also be devastating for pro-life medical providers – most especially those organizations whose pro-life missions direct them to serve pregnant women in crisis. In failing to protect medical conscience and religious liberty and in departing from the truths about the person, H.R. 5 undermines the very thing it purports to defend: the true equal dignity of every person.”
Brown concluded, “The Christ Medicus Foundation strongly supports the Conscience Protection Act and firmly opposes H.R. 5. Our nation needs to do much more to combat unjust discrimination and to safeguard the civil rights of the marginalized, excluded, and impoverished. As we seek to advance human dignity, we must protect that dignity consistent with natural law and science, consistent with the truth, and without undermining the foundation of civil rights. Tragically, H.R. 5 actually would erode existing civil rights laws and shred medical conscience rights. Hopefully, the Conscience Protection Act will become a landmark step towards a rebirth of civil rights in America, a more vigorous defense of the civil rights of the marginalized, excluded, and impoverished, and a strengthening of the foundations of American civil rights law.”
PRESS CONTACT: Becky Escher, Christ Medicus Foundation, Marketing & Communications Manager (817)-371-1979, [email protected]