By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, July 13, US Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) announced that the US House of Representatives have passed Conscience Protection Act, Senate Bill 304.
Congressman Byrne said in a statement on social media, “GOOD NEWS: The House today passed the Conscience Protection Act. This bill will would prohibit the federal government, or any state or local government who receive federal funds, from penalizing or retaliating against a health care provider on the basis that the provider does not participate in abortion. This is a huge victory for the pro-life movement and religious freedom!”
The Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) spoke in favor of the Conscience Protection Act from the House floor to urge its’ passage. Speaker Ryan said, “I think we can all agree, that in this country, no one should be forced to perform an abortion. I know we disagree about when life begins. I know we disagree about what government should do about it. And however strongly I hold my beliefs, I know my friends on the other side feel just as strongly. I respect those disagreements.” “But whoever you are—whatever you believe—I think this is one thing we can all agree on: No one should be forced to violate their conscience—least of all by the federal government. That’s all this bill says. The federal government—or anyone who receives taxpayer dollars—cannot discriminate against health care providers who do not perform abortions. And if they do discriminate, this bill says the victims will have two avenues of relief: Either, file a complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services. Or, file a civil suit in court. That’s all this bill does.”
Speaker Ryan said, “Our opponents say that this kind of thing just doesn’t happen. Nobody in their right mind would force someone against their will to help with an abortion. Well, tell that to Cathy DeCarlo. She was a nurse at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City. And a few years ago, she was forced to help with an abortion.” “This is not an isolated incident. There have been cases of nurses being suspended or threatened with firing solely for the offense of following their conscience. And now, the state of California requires all health insurance plans to cover abortion. So if you’re a church or a religious school, it doesn’t matter. You must cover this procedure. And if it violates your conscience, too bad.”
Ryan said, “This is a disturbing trend. And what’s even more disturbing is that the federal government has not been protecting people’s rights. There are already laws on the books to protect people’s conscience. But after Cathy DeCarlo filed a complaint to HHS, she waited three years for a resolution. And when she filed a lawsuit, an appeals court said she didn’t have standing and threw out her case. That’s why this bill makes it perfectly clear: People of faith have standing, and they deserve relief.”
The bill passed by 245 to 182. It has already passed the Senate; but the bill was much altered in the House so it has to go back to the Senate.
Congressman Bradley Byrne represents Alabama’s First Congressional District.