In US Supreme Court Brief, Christian Doctors Cite Conscience Conflicts Similar to Creative ArtistsIn US Supreme Court Brief, Christian Doctors Cite Conscience Conflicts Similar to Creative Artists

News Release

Christian Medical Association

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11, 2017 – The nation’s largest faith-based professional association of health professionals, the Christian Medical Association (CMA, www.cmda.org), contends in a legal brief filed with the Supreme Court that its members’ conscience battles parallel those of creative artists sued for declining to participate in proceedings inconsistent with their conscience and convictions.

CMA has filed a brief with the Court in the case (Masterpiece Bakeshops v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission) of Jack Phillips, a cake artist sued for declining to participate in a same-sex wedding, an event that contradicts his moral persuasions. CMA contends in its brief that health professionals face similar challenges to their First Amendment freedoms in situations involving abortion and other matters involving ethical choices and professional medical judgment.

The brief contends, “To force Mr. Phillips to make this cake would threaten a core liberty that is of the greatest possible importance to medical professionals – protection against compelled speech contrary to conscience, including purely symbolic expression. [T]he implications for the rights of medical professionals in the practice of their professions are clear, and disturbing.”

CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens commented, “This case reminds us that a threat to the First Amendment freedoms of one group is a threat to the First Amendment freedoms of everyone. Regardless of where one stands on controversial issues, as Americans we can all agree that the government cannot be allowed to compel any one of us to express ourselves in a way that violates our deepest held beliefs.

“Preserving freedom of medical judgment for doctors is an essential protection for patients. Imagine if the government were to dictate every medical decision and decide every medical prescription and procedure apart from the medical judgment of the doctors who know and care for their patients best.”

Contact:

Margie Shealy, Christian Medical Association, 423-341-4254

Joint letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Proposed Regulation: 80 Fed. Reg. 54172 (Sept. 8, 2015).

Re: Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities RIN 0945-AA02

Click image to see letter

CMA doctors hail Supreme Court mandate ruling, decry ongoing targeting of faith community

News release

Christian Medical Association

Washington, DC – June 30, 2014 – The 15,000-member Christian Medical Association (CMA, www.cmda.org), the nation’s largest and oldest faith-based doctors’ organization, today praised the Supreme Court’s ruling in two Health and Human Services (HHS) Obamacare mandate cases but noted “increasing attempts by the government to coerce the faith community.” CMA had outlined the medical aspects underlying religious objections to the HHS Obamacare mandate in its friend of the court brief in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood v. Sebelius.

CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens said in a statement, “We are very thankful that the Supreme Court acted to protect family businesses from government coercion and fines for simply honoring the tenets of their faith.

“This is a much-needed victory for faith freedoms, because this administration continues its assault on the values of the faith community. We are witnessing increasing attempts by the government to coerce the faith community to adopt the government’s viewpoint in matters of conscience,” noted Stevens.

CMA also filed a friend-of-the-court brief in another Supreme Court case this term, McCullen v. Coakley, to defend First Amendment free speech and assembly rights of pro-life advocates against a Massachusetts law that prohibited many citizens from entering a public street or sidewalk within 35 feet of an abortion facility.

“There seems to be growing intolerance of the faith community by some government officials who appear to want to extinguish the First Amendment freedoms that allow for a diversity of values,” Stevens observed, “We are seeing this antagonism expressed in coercive government mandates enforced with harsh penalties and discriminatory practices that threaten to eliminate the faith community from the public square.”

Dr. Stevens noted that the Obama administration recently launched another sweeping mandate that appears to target faith-based groups, requiring agreement with same-sex marriage as a condition of receiving federal grants. CMA’s Freedom2Care website (www.Freedom2Care.org) details other violations of faith and conscience rights:

Now Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is not radical enough to work at Rite Aid

 

Freedom2Care.org

Jonathan Imbody*

Tolerance. Diversity. Broad-mindedness. Those are the words.

Bullying. Discriminating. Compelling. Those are the deeds.

The contradictory words and deeds often come from one and the same individuals–and in a case I learned about today, companies. Turns out the words of tolerance, diversity and broad-mindedness only apply to those who comply with the dogma and submit to the will of the speakers.

Here’s an email I received this morning from a pharmacist member of the Christian Medical Association:

“Subject: Forced to resign over mandate to sell the morning after pill.

“Just to let you know that Rite-Aid corporation came out with a stricter policy on July 5, 2013 that requires all employees to accommodate the sale of the morning-after pill to all comers, of either gender and of any age.  I tendered my resignation within the hour, it was accepted, and my last work day is July 20th.  I realize that I am an ‘at will’ employee and I do not expect any recourse. Just for your information to add me to the list of those quitting pharmacy solely because of the policy change.  Keep up the good work. The battle rages.  The Lord is able to supply our needs.”

Remember that even the Obama administration health department opposed the unlimited sale of the morning-after pill, citing health concerns. So presumably, even the radically pro-abortion Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, is not radical enough to work at Rite Aid.

Unfortunately, Secretary Sebelius and President Obama trashed the only federal regulation protecting health care professionals from discrimination and firings for reasons of conscience. They and other abortion advocates also can’t seem to muster enough liberality to support the tolerant, diversity-respecting and broad-minded principles of the Healthcare Conscience Rights Act (S 1204 and HR 940).

While the regulation and the law apply specifically to government-funded programs, each can help establish an environment of true respect for conscience, tolerance and diversity that will protect health care professionals nationwide. Until then, pharmacists, obstetricians and family docs who still adhere to the Hippocratic oath and faith tenets remain subject to job loss, discrimination and ostracism for their life-affirming views.

Jonathan Imbody
Vice President for Government Relations,
Christian Medical Association 
CMA Washington office: P.O. Box 16351 • Washington, DC 20041
703-723-8688 (office) • 703-434-9794 (mobile)
Director, Freedom2Care – 50 groups and 29,000 individuals advancing conscience rights

Obama ‘freedom to worship’ assaults First Amendment

 Freedom of religion not just for private expression

28 January, 2013
Washington Times

Jonathan Imbody*

President Obama marked Religious Freedom Day earlier this month by framing religious liberty as “the freedom to worship as we choose.” If the president had not been restricting and attacking religious freedom so egregiously, he might merit a pass for using “freedom to worship” as poor shorthand for religious liberty.

The First Amendment of our Constitution actually reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The constitutionally guaranteed free exercise of religion in America extends well beyond the freedom to worship. It includes the freedom to live out our conscientiously held beliefs. . . [Read on]

 

CMA Physicians Compare HHS Position on Births to China’s in Comments Filed Opposing Contraceptives Mandate

NEWS RELEASE

Christian Medical Association

WASHINGTON, June 18, 2012 /Standard Newswire/ — The 16,000-member Christian Medical Association (CMA) has filed official comments opposing as “unlawful, unprecedented, unwise and un-American” a U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) rule that forces virtually all health insurance plans in the country to provide free contraceptive pills, devices and surgeries on demand regardless of users’ ability to pay.

The CMA document deplores the fact that “The administration is instituting a decidedly un-American policy that (a) classifies pregnancy as a disease requiring mandated treatment and (b) advocates the prevention of child-bearing as a health care cost savings. Unlike communist leaders in countries like China, Americans historically have not viewed pregnancy as a disease or children as an unwelcome product posing a cost burden.”

The comments of CMA and other groups were filed with HHS before the June 19 deadline for public comments on the rule, which has generated nationwide protests over what opponents consider a frontal assault on religious freedom, since the rule does not exempt most religious employers who object to the drugs on moral grounds.

CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens noted, “The contraceptives and sterilization mandate affects all people no matter what their faith is, and it is an attack on our first and most precious rights. Religious freedom and respect for conscience are among the most important issues that all people of faith face. This is a battle we dare not lose.”

CMA Executive VP Dr. Gene Rudd added, “While researchers continue to debate whether certain mandated drugs labeled as contraceptive may actually end the life of a developing human embryo, the mandated drug Ella almost certainly has such a post-fertilization effect; it’s the only way to explain the effectiveness rates claimed for the drug. What we have learned during this debate over the potential abortifacient nature of certain contraceptives is that those with a social agenda will deceive to achieve.”

The Christian Medical Association document asserted that the HHS mandate is unlawful and unprecedented in that it violates abortion-related provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the law under which the mandate is enacted), federal laws protecting conscience rights and constitutional protections for religious liberty and just compensation.

CMA also noted that besides violating constitutional religious liberties, the mandate also “offers no accommodation options whatsoever to protect secular conscientious objectors.”

The CMA comments conclude, “The administration retains only two realistic options regarding this unlawful, unprecedented, unwise and un-American policy: rescind the policy or face defeat in the courts. The CMA encourages rescission of this policy in its entirety.”

Contact: Margie Shealy, VP for Communications, Christian Medical & Dental Associations, 423-844-1047; www.Freedom2Care.org

Obama Administration Guts Healthcare Conscience Regulation

National Right to Life News
21 February 2011
Reproduced with permission

Jonathon Imbody*

True civil rights protection requires cultural change. A long-term program of education within the medical community and in the public is needed to help build awareness among conscientious healthcare professionals of their civil rights and a respect for those rights by all.

On February 18 the Obama administration gutted the only federal regulation protecting conscientious healthcare professionals from discrimination.

While three long-standing federal conscience-protecting laws remain intact, the conscience-protecting regulation had been promulgated under the Bush administration to remedy documented pervasive discrimination against pro-life physicians and others in disregard of the anti-discrimination laws.

U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius effectively eviscerated a sensible Bush-era regulation that had finally put teeth to bipartisan federal civil rights laws enacted over the past three decades. Those anti-discrimination laws were passed, all after the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion ruling, as a way to keep physicians, nurses, hospitals and others from being forced out of medicine simply for following life-affirming ethical standards such as the Hippocratic oath.

But abortion advocates hyperventilated when it appeared that those laws would actually be implemented and enforced by the conscience protection regulation, which took effect in January 2009.

Cecile Richards of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America had said, “It is going to cause chaos among providers across the country.”

Then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton had said: “It threatens the health and well-being of women and the rights of patients across the country.”

Of course, none of their doomsday predictions even faintly materialized in the over two years since the original regulation took effect. In explaining Friday’s regulation change, HHS presented no evidence whatsoever of any hindrance to any patient, procedure or prescription. The complete lack of evidence didn’t seem to matter a whit, despite President Obama’s vow in his Inaugural Address to “restore science to its rightful place.”

The administration’s radical action again suggests tone deafness to the American public. Of the over 300,000 comments HHS received regarding rescission, twice as many opposed rescission as supported it. The Polling Company in 2009 conducted a nationwide scientific polling of the public and also of faith-based healthcare professionals. The results revealed that:

  • An overwhelming 63% of the public supported the conscience protection regulation whereas only 28% opposed the conscience protection regulation.
  • Only 30% indicated support for the Obama administration’s plan to get rid of the regulation, whereas 62% opposed the administration’s plan.
  • 88% of American adults said it is either “very” or “somewhat” important to them that they share a similar set of morals as their doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers.
  • Nine of ten faith-based physicians agreed, “I would rather stop practicing medicine altogether than be forced to violate my conscience.”

In other words, faith-based healthcare professionals and institutions are ready to walk away from medicine if denied the ability to practice medicine according to conscientiously held ethical standards.

I tried to drive home that point in a meeting I had at the White House in 2009 with Obama officials regarding the conscience regulation and abortion in general. I pointed out that Mr. Obama and his officials never provided a concrete reason for trashing the reg, that the reg merely implemented existing federal law, and that it was crucial to preserving patient access to the pro-life physicians, hospitals and clinics across the country that depend upon conscience protections to practice medicine.

Especially in states already facing critical physician shortages–such as Texas, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Utah, Nevada, Idaho and Delaware–losing just one physician can erase healthcare access for thousands of patients. Hardest hit are poor patients and those who live in medically underserved areas.

The recent regulatory action makes all the more vital passing bills pending in the 112th Congress to protect healthcare access with conscience protections. For example, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 3), offered by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ); the Protect Life Act (H.R. 358), offered by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.); and the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 361) offered by Rep. John Fleming (R-La.), all forbid discrimination related to abortion, in certain contexts.

Abortion ideology has taken root in much of medical academia and healthcare institutions and has resulted in both overt and subtle discrimination that laws alone cannot adequately address. Civil rights laws by themselves, it should be remembered, did not protect minorities from many forms of discrimination.

True civil rights protection requires cultural change. A long-term program of education within the medical community and in the public is needed to help build awareness among conscientious healthcare professionals of their civil rights and a respect for those rights by all. Only then will we begin to restore medicine to its ethical moorings and protect the patients who depend upon ethical and compassionate healthcare professionals.


Christian Medical Association: Contraception mandate fits pattern of assaults on conscience and religious liberty

NEWS RELEASE

Christian Medical Association

Washington, DC–February 9, 2012: The 16,000-member Christian Medical Association today issued a statement asserting that the government’s mandate of contraception coverage nationwide fits a growing pattern of assaulting and restricting First Amendment freedoms of conscience and faith.

CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens noted, “The government contraception mandate violates the First Amendment rights and sensibilities of any individual or organization morally committed to life-honoring faith principles. The coercion likewise tramples the conscience rights of health care professionals ethically committed to the historic Hippocratic oath. And it fits a deplorable pattern of disregard for First Amendment freedoms.

“In the past three years, people of faith and conscience have witnessed the gutting of the only federal regulation protecting the exercise of conscience in health care; the denial of federal grant funds for aiding human trafficking victims because a faith-based organization refused to participate in abortion; the administration’s lobbying of the Supreme Court to restrict faith-based organizations’ hiring rights; and a coercive contraceptive mandate that imposes the government’s ideology on the faith-based and pro-life communities.

“The contraception mandate’s affront to religious freedom actually extends well beyond the Catholic Church, since many physicians and patients outside the Catholic tradition hold that it is morally or ethically wrong to risk ending the life of a developing human being by using pills such as ella and the morning-after pill. These pills are falsely promoted as ordinary contraceptives despite clear FDA label warnings that ‘ella may also work by preventing attachment (implantation) to the uterus’ and that the morning-after pill (Plan B) “may inhibit implantation by altering the endometrium.'”

“To force every American to subsidize an ideological agenda that many find morally or ethically abhorrent is the antithesis of American First Amendment freedoms of religion and conscience.

“The First Amendment issue of religious and conscience liberty impacts Americans of all political stripes. Conscience freedoms protect Americans left, right and center, on issues ranging from abortion to the death penalty, from participation in war to the right to protest political actions such as we are witnessing now.

“Every American, regardless of political persuasion, should be protesting these assaults on our freedoms and contacting legislators to enact conscience-protecting legislation such as the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, introduced in the House by Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb. 1st) and in the Senate by Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).

“As Dr. Martin Luther King reminds us, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.'”

To remedy the assault on religious liberty and conscience freedoms, the Christian Medical Association supports the following legislation:

Christian Medical Association calls HHS regulation an assault on First Amendment

The 16,000-member Christian Medical Association has protested the Obama admininstration’s plan to force objecting employers to provide insurance coverage for surgical sterilization, contraceptives, and  embryocidal drugs.  CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens said that the regulation “violates the First Amendment rights and sensibilities of any individual or organization morally committed to life-honoring faith principles,” adding that it  “tramples the conscience rights of health care professionals” and  “fits a deplorable pattern of disregard for First Amendment freedoms.” [News release]

 

CMA Physicians, former HHS Asst. Secretary decry Obama administration’s regulatory action on conscience and discrimination.

NEWS RELEASE

Christian Medical Association

Washington, DC, February 18, 2011 — The 16,000-member Christian Medical Association (CMA, www.cmda.org) today protested the decision of the Obama administration to weaken the only federal regulation protecting the exercise of conscience in health care.

Dr. J. Scott Ries, a board-certified family physician and CMA’s vice president for Campus & Community Ministries, said, “The administration has made changes in a vital civil rights regulation without evidence or justification. The administration presented no evidence of any problems in healthcare access, prescriptions or procedures that have occurred in the two years since the original regulation’s enactment that would justify any change in this protective regulation.

“The administration, for example, contends that a rule change is necessary to protect access to contraception, but absolutely no evidence is presented to justify any such concern. In the process, the administration blatantly ignores the scientific evidence that certain controversial prescriptions that abortion advocates promote as contraception are actually potential abortifacients, ending the life of a living, developing human embryo. This is a critical concern for pro-life patients, healthcare professionals and institutions.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services indicated in 2008 in its final rule, “We have found no evidence that these regulations will create new barriers in accessing contraception unless those contraceptives are currently delivered over the religious or moral objections of the provider in such programs or research activities.”

Dr. Ries added, “The Obama administration’s regulatory action today diminishes the civil rights that protect conscientious physicians and other healthcare professionals against discrimination. Any weakening of protections against discrimination against life-affirming healthcare professionals ultimately threatens to severely worsen patient access to health care.

“Losing conscientious healthcare professionals and faith-based institutions to discrimination and job loss especially imperils the poor and patients in medically underserved areas. We are already facing critical shortages of primary care physicians, and the Obama administration’s decision now threatens to make the situation far worse for patients across the country who depend on faith-based health care.”

National survey results show that over nine of ten faith-based physicians, who are among the most likely to be serving the poor and those in medically underserved areas, indicate they would rather leave the profession if denied the ability to practice medicine according to conscientiously held ethical standards. Survey results also indicate that 20% of faith-based medical students say they are “not pursuing a career in Obstetrics or Gynecology” because of perceived discrimination and coercion in that field.

Dr. Ries added, “Stories told to me by medical students across the country indicate that the threat of being forced to participate in abortion procedures and violate their moral integrity is enough to steer them in the opposite direction. That means even fewer physicians for women in the future in this specialty that is already facing critical shortages.

Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health Dr. Joxel Garcia noted, “Especially in physician shortage states such as Texas, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Utah, Nevada, Idaho and Delaware, losing just one physician can erase healthcare access for thousands of patients.

“Pushing conscientious physicians out of medicine is a significant step toward a healthcare system controlled by the state that moves away from the ethical roots of medicine. In the new governmental utilitarian model, the ‘common good’ defined by the state supersedes any moral, religious or ethical principle such as embodied in the Hippocratic Oath, which has protected patients for millennia.”

As the second-in-command under Sec. Mike Leavitt at the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS), Dr. Garcia oversaw the development and implementation of the conscience regulation and continues to work closely with the CMA and others to protect conscience rights. He currently serves as President and Dean at the Ponce School of Medicine & Health Sciences, where CMA provides a medical student ministry, as it does on over 90 percent of the nation’s medical and dental school campuses.

Dr. Ries’ clinical career has included faculty appointments at Indiana University School of Medicine and Butler University; he has also served as medical consultant to NBC, CBS, FOX and ABC network affiliates.