Congressmen Challenge President Obama on Abortion-Conscience Clause Promise

Color me stunned. Either our President is actually open to allowing pro-life healthcare professionals to practice medicine based upon their deeply held moral and religious beliefs or he’s the biggest hypocrite of the last century.

More Information:

Stunningly, President Barack Obama used his commencement speech at the University of Notre Dame on Sunday to call for conscience rights for physicians on abortion.

This both stunning and shocking because his administration has already proposed overturning a measure President Bush put in place to uphold three conscience laws.

After relating to the audience a story about how a pro-life, Christian doctor emailed him about rhetoric Obama used on his campaign web site, Obama expressed a desire wanted common ground on abortion.

“I said a prayer that night that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that the doctor had extended to me,” Obama said.

One of the ways Obama told the Notre Dame graduates that common ground could be put in place is by putting forward conscience laws on abortion.

“Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded in clear ethics and sound science, as well as respect for the equality of women,” Obama said.

Now, according to a report in LifeNews, two prominent pro-life congressmen are challenging President Barack Obama on his recent comments during his Notre Dame graduation speech that he supports a conscience clause. Obama told students he wanted to find common ground on abortion and used the conscience clause as an example.

In response, Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin and Chris Smith of New Jersey held a press conference today and called on Obama to forgo rescinding the Bush Administration conscience protection regulation.

“You indicated that you wanted to ‘honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion.’ Given our agreement in regard to a conscience clause, we respectfully request that you put an end to your Administration’s review of the Bush Administration rule that enforces existing conscience protection laws and completely forgo the rescinding of this rule,” they said in a letter to Obama.

“In addition, we urge you to commit to defending conscience protections in future rulemaking that affects both individual and institutional health care providers,” they wrote.

The letter, provided to LifeNews, told the president that, since he says he is committed to reducing the number of abortions, “We urge you to use all the tools at your disposable to keep conscience protections in place and reduce the number of abortions in the United States.”

In comments during the press conference, Sensenbrenner said Obama talks about a pro-choice stance but needs to apply that consistently.

“If this Administration wants to be the Administration of choice, than all people need to have their choices protected,” he said.

“The religious and moral views of health care workers should be respected. Workers should have the right to refuse to participate in an abortion procedure without the fear of losing their job or being discriminated against,” the Wisconsin congressman added.

Rep. Chris Smith, co-chair of the House Pro-Life Caucus, said, “We’re simply asking President Obama to ensure that his deeds match his words.”

If he believes in protecting conscience rights, Smith called on Obama to “simply stop all your efforts, and those of your Administration, to rescind the current conscience regulations that protect the fundamental right to pro-life healthcare workers — and Catholic Hospitals — to refuse to participate in procedures that they find morally reprehensible.

In 2008, the Bush administration issued a rule that prohibited recipients of federal money from discriminating against doctors, nurses and health care aides who refuse to take part in medical procedures towhich they have religious or moral objections.

The rule implemented existing conscience protection laws that ensure medical professionals cannot be denied employment because they do not want to provide abortions.

Although federal law has long forbidden discrimination against health care professionals who refuse to perform abortions or provide referrals for them, the regulation required institutions that get federal funding to certify their compliance with laws protecting conscience rights.

It also promoted education within the medical community regarding their rights and provided an avenue of recourse in the event of discrimination through the Office of Civil Rights within HHS.

At the end of February, the Obama administration announced it began “reviewing” the regulations implementing conscience laws, the first step toward rescinding the rule altogether.

Congressman John Fleming, a Louisiana Republican and physician, also attended the press conference with Smith and Sensenbrenner.But, in listening to Obama’s speech, bioethics attorney Wesley J. Smith told LifeNews that he was struck by Obama’s esurient desire to be seen as moderate on abortion yet taking hypocritical actions.

“I was reminded of how adept Obama is in saying one thing while doing just the opposite; such as claiming in his speech to support a conscience clause for health professionals on the issue of abortion,” he said.

“Obama–or at least his administration (is there a difference?) plans to revoke the Bush conscience clause, not revise it. That is hardly honoring heterodox thinkers’ consciences,” Smith added.

Although Obama has yet to overturn the conscience protections Bush put into place for the doctors and physicians Obama said today he seeks to protect, Smith isn’t holding his breath that Obama will change course.

“Perhaps the administration will change from the radical course it has steered to date on these important matters. More likely, Obama will continue to say moderate things–to great cheering in the media–while his administration acts immoderately,” he says.

Smith says Obama has had the opportunity “to steer a moderate course … and he rejected the moderate course.”

“Which brings to mind another trite old saying; talk is cheap,” Smith concluded.

You can read more of my blogs on the topic here: