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WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) is urging lawmakers to quickly pass the Conscience Protection Act of 2016 in their letter to Congress Thursday.
Their goal, according to the letter, is "to ensure that those providing much-needed health care and health coverage can continue to do so without being forced by government to help destroy innocent unborn children."
The bishops' letter cites the following three cases calling for immediate action:
[O]n June 21 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared, contrary to the plain meaning of current federal law, that California's Department of Managed Health Care can continue forcing all health plans under its jurisdiction to cover elective abortions, including late-term abortions.
New York's Department of Financial Services has followed California's lead in forcing health care entities to cover abortions in health plans.
[O]n June 21, Skagit County Superior Court in Washington ruled that public hospitals in that state must do abortions if they also offer maternity care.
The Conscience Protection Act of 2016 (H.R.4828 / S.2927) protects health care providers from being penalized for refusing to be involved in or provide coverage for abortions; this includes health care professionals, health care facilities, social services providers, health care professional training programs and health insurers.
The act further mandates that such complaints of alleged penalization by government agencies based on an individual's religious belief, moral conviction or refusal to be involved in abortion, must be investigated swiftly by the Office of Civil Rights and the Department of Justice.
Finally, the legislation would allow private entities that were unjustly penalized to sue the government for relief.
The letter was signed by Cdl. Timothy Dolan, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Abp. William Lori, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.
The prelates, holding up the three examples of discrimination in Thursday's letter, affirmed
These disturbing new actions to force healthcare providers to participate in the destruction of human life cry out for an immediate federal remedy. Even those who disagree on the issue of abortion should be able to respect those who wish not to participate in abortion.
In a letter penned in April, the USCCB joined twenty-five major pro-life, religious and health care organizations "representing millions of Americans and tens of thousands of health care professionals," lobbying Congress to pass this legislation that had been introduced in March.