PRI Weekly Briefing: The Conscience Protection Amendment and NARALâ€™s "D"
Those who favor abortion "rights" claim to be pro-choice, but this is merely a semantic ploy intended to dupe the unwary. For what the pro-abortion movement calls "reproductive freedom" in fact means forcing people and private institutions to fund and perform abortions. This is why, in a country where abortion is legal up to the point of birth, the abortionists at NARAL grudgingly give America a "D" grade. The mind balks at what it would take to earn an "A": Child sacrifice?
Steven W. Mosher
Population Research Institute
PRI Weekly Briefing
24 November 2004
Vol. 6 / No. 37
The Conscience Protection Amendment and NARALâ€™s "D"
By Joseph A. D'Agostino
Now that the state of California has forced Catholic Charities, in violation of Catholic teaching, to pay for contraceptives, a federal effort to protect Americans from having to perform abortions shouldnâ€™t surprise anyone. Congressmen Henry Hyde (R.-Ill.) and Dave Weldon (R.-Fla.) succeeded last week by writing a conscience protection clause into a spending bill that passed Congress. The Hyde-Weldon Conscience Protection Amendment simply forbids forcing health insurance companies, hospitals, and doctors to perform, pay for, or otherwise participate in abortions by providing abortion referrals or information.
The amendment passed because a large majority of Americans-and their elected representatives-believe that abortion kills. Many think that the government should outlaw it altogether. Others, like Mario Cuomo and John Kerry, say they are personally pro-life but favor the pro-choice position legally. But without this amendment, they and millions of other Americans who work in the health care industry and think as they do could be forced to choose between murder and losing their jobs.
The National Organization for Women (NOW), the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), Democratic congressional leaders, and other pro-abortion figures could have used the passage of the Hyde-Weldon amendment as an opportunity to highlight their supposed belief in the primacy of personal choice and conscience. "We are happy to support this provision," they could have said. "Just as no one has to have an abortion if she doesnâ€™t want one, no one has to perform or participate in an abortion if they donâ€™t want to."
Instead, pro-abortion feminist leaders are spewing forth an amazingly vitriolic collection of rhetoric. They are bashing religion--as if refusing to perform an abortion on religious grounds is unacceptable-while ignoring those who oppose abortion for secular reasons.
"House and Senate Republicans sneaked potentially sweeping language into the House spending bill allowing health care providers to use their personal religious opinions to restrict health care services to women...," said NOW in a November 20 press release. "HMOs and insurance companies could refuse to provide any abortion services, information or referrals to abortion services. ... This gag makes womenâ€™s bodies the property of right-wing legislators and allows insurance providersâ€™ personal and religious beliefs to dictate health care choices for women." NOW predicted, "This is the tragic beginning of a tyrannical march to indenture girls and women as second-class citizens, slowly limiting their autonomy and authority over their basic health decisions."
NARAL Interim President Elizabeth Cavendish insisted, "This move highlights the true agenda of the far right, which controls Congress and the White House-eliminating a womanâ€™s right to choose." (Consider: Does NARAL actually believe that the American people just returned control of the presidency and Congress, with an increased majority, to the "far right"?)
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.), continuing to spout the failed rhetoric that just cost her party the election, said, "The Title X family planning program provides much-needed reproductive health services that reach millions of low-income, uninsured individuals. ... [U]nder this amendment, clinics could participate in the Title X program without providing a full range of reproductive health services. Federal dollars should not be used to deny the federally-protected right to choose." In the warped logic of the Houseâ€™s top Democrat, giving federal money to clinics that donâ€™t provide abortions somehow constitutes the denial of a right.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Gloria Feldt weighed in as well, saying, "The vast majority of Americans oppose allowing health care entities to deny services to women, even if those entities claim their refusal is based on religious or moral grounds."
For these and other radical abortion rights groups, "reproductive freedom" means forcing other people to perform an act that they sincerely believe is murder. "It is not enough for abortion groups that 1.3 million unborn children are violently killed every year in this country-they want to force Catholic hospitals to do the killing," responded Rep. Chris Smith (R.-N.J.). "This is about protecting the fundamental right of conscience for those who do not want to be forced to be involved in abortion. NARAL let the cat out of the bag on their website a few years ago when they launched a program dedicated to â€˜requiring Maryland hospitals to provide abortionâ€™-against the will of the hospitals."
The other co-sponsor of the bill, Dave Weldon, who is himself a doctor, noted, "This policy simply states that health care entities should not be forced to provide elective abortions, a practice to which a majority of health care providers object and which they will not perform as a matter of conscience."
NARAL, especially, is very displeased with the state of Americaâ€™s abortion regime. Earlier this year it released a report that concluded, "The nationâ€™s overall grade for womenâ€™s access to abortion dropped to a dismal D." A "D"? Abortion-on-demand at any point in pregnancy is legal in every state, abortion clinics dot the landscape like human waste dumps, and abortions cost only a few hundred dollars each. Moreover, tens of millions of tax dollars flow each year to groups, like Planned Parenthood, that perform abortions. And all this generates a "D"?
Radical feminists now apparently believe that abortion-on-demand means that every medical practitioner has to perform an abortion if such is requested of him. Perhaps NARALâ€™s "D" stands for "Demand": a demand that each and every pro-life American be personally complicit in the slaughter.
Joseph A. D'Agostino is Vice President for Communications at the Population Research Institute.
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