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WFF Statement

Opposition to Rescinding Provider Conscience Regulation, 73 Fed. Reg. 50274

April 10, 2009

Office of Public Health and Science
Dept. of Health and Human Services,
Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Ave. SW, Room 728E,
Washington DC 20201

RE: Opposition to Rescinding Provider Conscience Regulation, 73 Fed. Reg. 50274

Dear Sir or Madam:

Women for Faith and Family, an organization of about 50,000 Catholic women in the United States, strongly supports the freedom of conscience of healthcare providers. We therefore oppose the administration’s proposal to rescind the current conscience regulation published at 73 Fed.Reg. 50274, which ensures compliance with existing statues that protect conscience rights. Overturning it would eliminate the conscience protection statutes themselves.

A healthcare professional’s freedom of conscience is an untouchable human right that should never be subject to political manipulation. The targeted regulation, entitled “Ensuring That Department of Health and Human Services Funds Do Not Support Coercive or Discriminatory Policies or Practices in Violation of Federal Law”, is absolutely necessary because the fundamental right of conscience is rendered meaningless if there are no effective means of enforcement against those who violate it.

This regulation enables healthcare professionals to file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights based on the underlying federal conscience protections. The previous lack of a regulatory structure kept these professionals without recourse.

Furthermore, eliminating or failing to protect conscience rights makes it more likely that healthcare workers may be compelled to either violate their consciences or leave the healthcare field altogether.  It threatens a healthcare professional’s ability to choose and make medical determinations in complete freedom of conscience as required by the professional itself. Also, unless these rights are protected, patients will find it increasingly difficult to find a physician who they trust on issues that are important to them as well.

Women For Faith and Family respectfully urges the administration to retain the regulation that gives professionals “conscience” protections.



Helen Hull Hitchcock, President
Women for Faith & Family

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