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No choice: Doctors forced to perform abortions or else?

CLS, ADF attorneys seek to defend federal law that protects medical professionals from mandatory participation in abortion
Published On: 10/18/2017

HARTFORD, Conn. — Attorneys with the Christian Legal Society and the Alliance Defense Fund filed motions to intervene Wednesday in three lawsuits that seek to invalidate a federal law protecting medical professionals from discrimination because they refuse to participate in abortions.  Three pro-life medical associations are seeking to defend the law against challenges by some state officials, Planned Parenthood, and the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Medical professionals should not be forced to perform abortions against their conscience.  Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and their pro-abortion allies are seeking to punish pro-life medical professionals for their beliefs,” said Litigation Counsel Casey Mattox with CLS’s Center for Law & Religious Freedom.  “Far from arguing for ‘choice,’ these lawsuits seek to compel health care workers to perform abortions or face dire consequences.”

“For over three decades, federal law has prohibited recipients of federal grants from forcing medical professionals to participate in abortions.  The arguments in the lawsuits themselves demonstrate lack of compliance with these laws and the necessity of the regulation they are challenging,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman.  Attorney Andrew Knott of Cheshire is assisting as local counsel.

The Christian Medical Association, Catholic Medical Association, and American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, represented by CLS and ADF attorneys, are asking to be allowed to defend the law, 45 CFR Part 88, enacted in December 2008 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Noting a pattern of grant recipients unaware of or flouting existing laws protecting medical professionals’ rights of conscience, HHS enacted the new law to require grantees to certify compliance with them in order to receive funds.  The three long-standing statutes are the Church Amendment, the Coats-Snowe Amendment, and the Weldon Amendment.

The three pro-life medical groups point out that denying rights of conscience could harm access to healthcare for all by forcing medical professionals who refuse to perform abortions to either relocate from jurisdictions that force them to do so or leave the profession altogether.

Many of those challenging the HHS law failed in previous efforts to have the Weldon Amendment struck downCLS and ADF attorneys representing the Christian Medical Association and American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists successfully defended that law. 

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.

The CLS Center for Law & Religious Freedom is a team of Christian attorneys allied with ADF to defend religious liberty and human life.

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