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Women and Medical Professionals Ask Court to Intervene in Federal Case to Protect the Right to Conscience

by Staff
March 24, 2010
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HARTFORD, Conn., ( -- Representing Concerned Women for America, America's largest women's advocacy group and four other groups of pro-life medical professionals, attorneys with Advocates International filed a joint motion to lift stay and at last permit their intervention in three lawsuits commenced on January 15, 2009 that seek to invalidate a final federal regulation protecting medical professionals from discrimination because they refuse to participate in abortions.

Advocates International is seeking to defend the law against challenges by some state officials, Planned Parenthood, and the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union. A stay of the action was issued last year by the Court when the pro-abortion Obama Administration issued its notice of rulemaking to rescind that regulation year ago and also asked the court for time to consider whether it shouldn't rescind the challenged regulation that denies federal funding to any federal grantee who discriminates against any health care providers for exercising their constitutionally and statutorily protected rights of conscience.

"As we face the most pro-abortion Congress and administration in American history seeking to fund abortion in healthcare, medical professionals can no longer depend on government to protect their rights not to be forced to perform abortions against their conscience. Despite the well-established laws protecting the health care right of conscience, Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and their pro-abortion allies are now receiving the cooperation of the Obama administration as they again seek to punish pro-life medical professionals for their beliefs," said Samuel B. Casey, General Counsel of Advocates International's Law of Life Project. "Our clients are opposing these lawsuits because they wrongfully seek to compel health care workers to perform abortions against their ethical and professional judgment or face dire consequences."

"For over three decades, federal law has prohibited recipients of federal grants from forcing medical professionals to participate in abortions. The arguments in the lawsuits themselves demonstrate lack of compliance with these laws and the necessity of the fair non-discrimination Health and Human Services (HHS) regulations these pro-abortion groups are challenging," said attorney Howard Wood, of Manchester who is assisting as Advocates International's lead local counsel in the case.

On behalf of Concerned Woman for America (CWA), Christian Pharmacists Fellowship International, Care Net, Heartbeat International and the New Jersey Physicians Resource Council, Advocates International attorneys, are asking to be allowed to intervene and defend the law, 45 CFR Part 88, enacted in December 2008 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Noting a pattern of grant recipients unaware of or flouting existing laws protecting medical professionals' rights of conscience, HHS enacted the new law to require grantees to certify compliance with them in order to receive funds. The three long- standing statutes are the Church Amendment, the Coats-Snowe Amendment, and the Weldon Amendment.

Many of the plaintiffs challenging the HHS law in this case failed in previous efforts to have the Weldon Amendment struck down.

Most of the clients represented by Advocates International filed testimony in support of their intervention motion pointing out that denying rights of conscience could harm access to healthcare for all by forcing medical professionals who refuse to perform abortions to either relocate from jurisdictions that force them to do so or leave the profession altogether.

On behalf of the Christian Medical Association, Catholic Medical Association, and American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, attorneys from the Alliance Defense Fund ( and Christian Legal Society ( also joined in this motion to lift stay and intervene asking the court to be allowed to defend the law.

Advocates International is an international organization of attorneys in over 150 nations who seek to do justice with compassion, including through its Global Task Forces on the Law of Life and Religious Freedom protecting the right of health care professionals not to perform or refer for elective abortions.

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