Protection of Conscience Project
Protection of Conscience Project
Service, not Servitude

Service, not Servitude
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Commentaries on Federal Laws and Regulations

The commentaries provided on the website are not a substitute for legal advice provided by a qualified professional. 

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

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

  • United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
  •  National Association of Evangelicals
  •  Christian Medical Association
  •  Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance
  •  Christian Legal Society
  •  World Vision (US)
  •  Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
  •  Liberty Institute
  •  Family Research Council
  • &nb National Catholic Bioethics Center

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 'contraceptive' mandate

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 'contraceptive' mandate controversy (2011-2018)

Sean Murphy | Title 42 of the United States Code (U.S.C) is known as the Public Health Service Act. In March, 2010 the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act amended the  Public Health Service Act in the course of wide-ranging health care reforms that were to take effect in 2014.  Over the next three years a serious controversy developed as the Obama administration developed plans to use the law to compel payment for insurance coverage of morally contested services notwithstanding objections based on freedom of conscience and religion. . . continue reading

Appendix "A": Public Health Service Act

Appendix "B": Women's Preventive Services Guidelines

Appendix "C": §147.130 Interim Final Rules

Appendix "D": Commentary re: Interim Final Rules (2011)

Appendix "E": Women's Preventive Services and Religious Institutions

Appendix "F": Obama Administration Justification of "Contraceptive Mandate"

Appendix "G": Formulating Rules re: Religious Organizations

Appendix "H":  Proposed Rule re: Religious Organizations

Appendix "I":  §147.130 Coverage of Preventive Health Services

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Comment of Interim Final Rules (31 August, 2011)

USCCB | . . . we urge HHS to rescind the mandate in its entirety.  Only rescission will eliminate all of the serious moral problems the mandate creates; only rescission will correct HHS's legally flawed interpretation of the term "preventive services" . . . continue reading

Letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
(5 October, 2011)

28 U.S. Senators | . . . Ultimately, our concern is with the lack of due consideration given by you and your Department to the adverse impact that IOM's recommendations would have on our core constitutional value of religious liberty. Though the IFRs' "religious exemption" purports to protect religious organizations, health care professionals, and health care plans, it is clear that this protection falls well short of securing this constitutional right. . . continue reading

U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Sub-Committee on Health
(2 November, 2011)

Hearing  | Do New Health Care Mandates Threaten Conscience Rights and Access to Care?

Conscience v. Conscience?
(3 December, 2011)

Marc O. Degirolami | . . . If the health care law contains an exemption for religious employers, the individual woman . . . is only losing the power to compel her religious employer (for whom, one should expect, she agreed to work voluntarily) to pay for her contraceptive services. On the other hand, if there is no exemption, the religious employer is being compelled to provide contraceptive services, in direct violation of its beliefs. What is of "vital importance" is the failure of so many people to recognize this distinction. . . continue reading

Letter to President Obama
(21 December, 2011)

60 Non-Catholic Organizations | We write to express our deep concern about the contraceptives mandate in the health insurance regulations, and about the "religious employer" exemption that is so narrow that it does not protect most faith-based organizations. . . continue reading

U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
(16 February, 2012)

Hearing  | Lines Crossed: Separation of Church & State

Hobby Lobby Case and What It Says About Corporations With a Conscience
If people want to deny corporations a conscience, how can they ever again demand that corporations act morally, conscientiously?

Paul De Vries  |  The Supreme Court was right to allow corporations to be exempt from the mandate to pay for abortion pills or contraception when their leaders have established religious reasons against them. Moral issues can stand as questions for the liberty of conscience – whether individual conscience or corporate conscience. . . continue reading

HHS Protection of Conscience Regulation (2008-2011)

In the fall of 2008, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the outgoing Bush administration passed a regulation to safeguard freedom of conscience for healthcare workers.  The rule came into effect at the end of January, 2009, just before President Barack Obama took office.  President Obama's administration eviscerated and re-enacted the regulation in 2011 to remove the safeguards enacted under President Bush.

Re:  Hearing: Freedom of Conscience for Small Pharmacies
(25 July, 2005)

Opening Statement of Chairman Manzullo

. . .The subject before this Committee today deals with the negative impact on small pharmacies that operate under the strict law that requires pharmacists to fill all prescriptions - even if doing so violates their moral and professional beliefs. I also want to discuss alternatives that will ensure that women who want a certain prescription have access to it, while preserving the integrity of the pharmacist. . . continue reading

Prepared Remarks of Mr. Luke Vander Bleek, R.Ph.

. . . I object that any private business should be required by government to offer for sale any particular product or service. Additionally, I have strong professional and moral objections to this executive requirement being placed on my business. . . continue reading

Prepared Remarks of Ms. Sheila Nix

. . .The Governor's rule clarified a retail pharmacy's duty to dispense contraceptive medication without delay. The rule does not apply to individual pharmacists; it applies to pharmacies. This rule was not intended to - nor does it - pertain to health care right of conscious legislation or encroach on an individual pharmacist exercising his or her beliefs. . . continue reading

Prepared Remarks of Mr. J. Michael Patton, M.S., CAE

. . .Unfortunately, what we are now finding is that some individuals are now testing select pharmacies to discern the willingness of the pharmacy to fill their prescription. A case in point is a woman who would drive over 100 miles to a very small rural pharmacy to get her prescription filled when she had passed multiple metropolitan areas. . . continue reading

Prepared Remarks of Ms. Linda Garrelts MacLean, R.Ph., CDE

APhA recognizes the individual pharmacist's right to exercise conscientious refusal and supports the establishment of systems to ensure [the] patient's access to legally prescribed therapy without compromising the pharmacist's right of conscientious refusal.  . . . In sum, our policy supports a pharmacist 'stepping away' from participating but not 'stepping in the way' of the patient accessing the therapy. . . continue reading

Prepared Remarks of Ms. Megan Kelly

. . . When I went to pick up my medication, the pharmacist on duty said she would not fill my prescriptions because of her beliefs, and that I would have to get my prescriptions filled elsewhere. I was shocked. . .continue reading

Re: Abortion Non-Discrimination Act
(July, 2002)

U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Sub-Committee on Health
Protecting the Rights of Conscience of Health Care Providers and a Parent's Right to Know (11 July 2002)  

Opening remarks of Chairman Michael Bilrakis | Our first panel will discuss an issue that we commonly refer to as the conscience clause. In 1996, the Congress passed, and President Clinton signed into law, provisions that provide protections to health care professionals and a, ‘‘health care entity’’ from being forced to perform abortions if they have moral or religious objections to the procedure. However, court interpretations have called into question whether these sections of law apply to hospitals that object to offering elective abortions. . . continue reading

 Statement of Lynn D. Wardle, J.D. | . . .Recently, there have been a series of attempts to compel hospitals, health care groups, and other hare care organizations to either provide abortion services or to be denied the license, permission or opportunity to engage in the health care service. Also, there have been attempts to mandate that health care insurers and private employers provide coverage and pay for abortion services. . . continue reading

Statement of Ms. Karen Vosburgh | . . .the court struck down a state law protecting hospitals that refuse to participate in abortions, denying the right of our board to exercise its rights of moral conscience. The court even suggested that it would not respect the religious beliefs of those who decline involvement in abortion, saying, "recognizing such a policy as 'compelling' could violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment." . . . continue reading

Fact Sheet: ACLU's Misrepresentations about the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act

US Conference of Catholic Bishops | In testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health (July 11, 2002), the Reproductive Freedom Project of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) made several claims about the practical effect of H.R. 4691, the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act. Each claim is quoted below and followed by a rebuttal that sets the record straight.
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Letters of Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua

8 October, 2002 |. . .Passage of S. 2008 is urgently needed. In recent years there has been a growing nationwide effort to attack the conscience rights of Catholic and other health care providers. In one example cited at the House hearing on this bill, an Alaska court forced a community hospital to provide elective late-term abortions contrary to its policy and the sentiment of the community. . .
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15 August, 2003 | Abortion advocates, by opposing this modest legislation, have called into serious question their past claim that they favor a "right to choose" on abortion. . . . Hospitals and other health care providers have "a right to choose not to be involved in destroying life."
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US Conference of Catholic Bishops