Congress urged to pass Conscience Protection Act for health care workers

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., has urged Congress to pass the Conscience Protection Act.

It would amend the Public Health Service Act to prohibit government discrimination against health care providers who, on serious moral or religious grounds, strongly object to participating in medical procedures, namely abortion.

Harris, a Catholic physician, reintroduced the measure Nov. 19 and is one of 100 Republican lawmakers who support the bill.

Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, endorsed the measure.

According to Harris, the bill is needed because of various actions by the Biden administration, including its dismissal earlier this year of a government suit against a Vermont hospital for violating nurses' objections, on morals ground, to participating in abortion.

Harris said in a statement that, earlier this year, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, who also is a Catholic, had made a commitment to him and U.S. Rep. Congressman Tom Cole, R-Okla., as members of the House Appropriations Committee, that "he would ensure the protection of the legal rights of conscience for providers -- but sadly this has not occurred."