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ADF commends HHS final rule protecting conscience rights

California’s Physician-Assisted Suicide Law is Anything But Compassionate

The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Kellie Fiedorek regarding the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ issuance Thursday of the final version of the Conscience Rights in Health Care rule:

“One of the freedoms Americans have cherished most is the freedom to live according to their faith and conscience, free from government coercion. Unfortunately, ADF clients and other nurses, doctors, and health care providers have faced discrimination and even have lost their jobs because of their commitment to saving life. We commend the Trump administration and HHS for this commonsense rule that simply ensures longstanding federal conscience laws are enforced so that no American is forced to choose between violating their beliefs and serving those most in need. By ensuring that entities receiving federal funds do not violate health care entities’ and individuals’ freedom of conscience, this rule preserves diversity in the healthcare field and maintains respect for the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm.”

ADF submitted a comment to HHS in support of the Conscience Rights in Health Care Rule in March of last year. ADF has also represented medical professionals and other individuals seeking to protect life who faced discrimination or hostility to their conscience rights. The following quotes may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom clients Fe Esperanza Racpan Vinoya, Cathy DeCarlo, Sara Hellewege, and Heidi Matzke. 

“After 28 years of working as a critical care and emergency room nurse, I never imagined my employer would force me to choose between taking the life of an unborn child and losing my job. But 11 other nurses and I were ordered to assist in abortion even though it violated our religious convictions and contradicted our calling as a medical professional to protect life. Both New Jersey and federal law prohibited this discrimination. But those laws are only as effective as the willingness of government officials to enforce them. Today’s rule helps enforce the law just like any other civil rights law and protect people like me who love serving our patients.”

Fe Esperanza Racpan Vinoya - Danquah v. University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey


“My faith in God and the Catholic Church’s teachings about the value of all human life inspired my career in nursing and encouraged me to never harm or intentionally take the life of an innocent person. I’ll never forget the day my supervisor ignored the law and forced me to participate in an abortion. I still have nightmares about that day. As an immigrant to America because of the freedom and opportunity I saw here, today I’m hopeful that HHS’ new rule will help make sure that no other nurses or health care professionals will be forced to go through what I did and that their rights will be protected .”

Cathy DeCarlo - Cenzon-DeCarlo v. The Mount Sinai Hospital

“I never dreamed that my desire to serve women and their families would prevent me from joining the medical profession, but it almost did.  I applied for a nurse-midwife position at a federally-funded center that provides health care to poor, underserved women in Florida. But I was shocked when the center refused to consider my application because I was a member of a pro-life medical association and was committed to saving lives not ending them. Today’s rule isn’t just good news for healthcare professionals like me, but also for every woman who desires a healthcare professional who is committed to ‘do no harm.’ Diversity among health providers, including religious and moral diversity, helps ensure women have more options available to them in finding a medical professional who shares and supports their values.”

Sara Hellwege Hellwege v. Tampa Family Health Centers

“The pregnancy care center I help lead informs pregnant moms about all their options—parenting, placing a child for adoption, and abortion. We offer hope, encouragement, and practical support. But the state of California tried to force us to speak a message we didn’t believe, refer for free abortions, and turn our walls into a billboard for the abortion industry. Thankfully, the Supreme Court ruled that the government can’t force us to speak a message that contradicts the very core of who we are and why we exist and today’s announcement from HHS sends that same, important message.”

Heidi Matzke - National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra

  • Pronunciation guide: Hellwege (Hell-VAY’-guh)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

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