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AL House Republicans Cosponsor Respect for Rights of Conscience Act

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter 

Organizations including the Knights of Columbus, the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment (NCHLA) and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have asked for all members of the United States Congress to cosponsor Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s (R) from Nebraska ‘Respect for Rights of Conscience Act’ H.R. 1179 which will restore conscience rights for people and institutions involved in the healthcare field.  The right not to participate in healthcare practices such as abortion by healthcare providers, employers, and insurers based on conscience has been eroded or flatly rejected by the pro-abortion Barack H. Obama administration.

The NCHLA wrote to members of Congress: “Please co-sponsor the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179, S. 1467) and help enact it into law. The Obama administration’s decision to require even religious institutions to provide coverage of sterilization and contraceptives, including drugs that can cause an abortion, makes passage of this measure especially urgent. Please ensure that the rights of conscience of all participants in our nation’s health care system are respected.”

Most of Alabama’s House of Representatives delegation has agreed with the bishops. Congressmen Robert Aderholt (R) from Haleyville, Spencer Bachus (R) from Vestavia, Mike Rogers (R) from Anniston, Mo Brooks (R) from Huntsville, Jo Bonner (R) from Mobile, and Congresswoman Martha Roby (R) from Montgomery have all cosponsored H.R. 1179, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act.

Thursday, Congressman Spencer Bachus (R) from Vestavia issued a press release announcing that he and many of his Congressional colleagues had sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asking that the administration reverse its position refusing to allow religious institutions to opt out of providing abortion services to its employees based on the conscience and beliefs of the religious institution.

Representative Martha Roby (R) from Montgomery said, “The administration’s proposed contraception mandate requiring religious schools and hospitals to provide employees with access to free birth control is an infringement on religious rights – which is unconstitutional. I’ve signed on to a bill and will do what is right to reverse the administration’s policy.”  Rep. Roby is also a signatory to the letter to Secretary Sebelius.

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Congressman Bachus said, “This is about protecting religious freedom. From our founding, America has always respected conscience rights. The Obama Administration does not have the right to force anyone to violate their religious and moral beliefs in the name of furthering government-run health care.”

 The letter said that the decision “is an unprecedented overreach by the federal government that infringes upon rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. This decision will also violate the conscience rights of those who, for moral or religious reasons, oppose abortion.”

Representative Bachus was one of 154 members of Congress to sign the letter.

The Eternal World Television Network (EWTN), which is a Catholic media giant run by nuns based in Irondale filed suit in federal court today challenging the Obama Administration’s authority to force them to pay to provide abortion and contraceptive services on the grounds that such an order is unconstitutional and is a violation of EWTN’s constitutional rights.

As of press time Representative Terri Sewell (D) from Selma was the only member of the Alabama House delegation who has not cosponsored H.R 1179.  Neither Senator Shelby nor Senator Sessions have yet cosponsored Senate Bill S1467, which is the Senate version of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act.

To read Congressman Bachus’ press release

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Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.