Whose Conscience Matters?: Not Yours, According to This New Bill
The GOP’s war on women’s health care has not diminished, indeed it’s about the only area they actually manage to pass legislation for.
On Wednesday night, the House of Representatives voted 242-181 to pass S. 304, which is misleadingly titled the “Conscience Protection Act” (CPA).
CPA would allow “health care providers” to deny women access to reproductive health care. It would permit any “health care provider” to refuse not just to perform abortions, but to facilitate, make arrangements for, provide coverage for, or otherwise participate in abortion. Here’s the catch – “health care provider” is defined so broadly, it would include your boss. So, under CPA, a woman’s boss could deny her coverage for abortion care if he believes abortion is a sin. And it might even include an administrative assistant who would refuse to schedule a medical appointment. And it definitely includes nonprofit organizations that contract with the government to care for unaccompanied immigrant children, some of whom have been raped, to refuse to provide them with access to abortion.
Proponents of this bill—which goes far beyond existing law—say it is necessary to protect their freedom of conscience.
Patients should be free to exercise their consciences, too.
Freedom of conscience guarantees us the right to believe—or not—as we fit. What it doesn’t guarantee is the right to use our beliefs to harm others. This bill allows health care providers to use their religious beliefs to harm, discriminate against, and refuse to treat women who need medical care, and sometimes urgently so.