Doctors Fight for Conscience Clause

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WASHINGTON - Thursday is the last day for public comment on President Obama's plan to get rid of the Conscience Clause.

It protects doctors, pharmacists and others if they refuse to perform practices like abortion.

To let your voice be heard, send comments to proposedrescission@hhs.gov or call the White House Switchboard at (202) 456-1414.

A new poll shows 87 percent of Americans believe health care professionals should not be forced to participate in procedures they are morally against.

Click play for more analysis from Dr. David Stevens of the Christian Medical Association, following this report.

Still, many medical professionals who gathered in Washington say they are just plain scared. They're worried they could soon be forced out of the profession they love.

"Ninety percent of doctors...of those surveyed...said they will quit their practices before violating their conscience," said Dr. David Stevens, Christian Medical Association.

Dr. Sandy Christiansen, a Care Net National medical consultant, agrees.

"If I am faced with the choice between losing my job or being forced to perform an abortion, I will leave the practice of medicine. And I have to wonder, if we are chased out of medicine, who will step into the gap?" she said.

The Bush administration just last year came up with the conscience clause because so many pro-life medical-types have faced discrimination.

"Students are denied admission to medical schools or residency programs because they are not in favor of abortion. Doctors and nurses are losing their jobs or a promotion because of their beliefs," Stevens said.

But now the Obama administration wants to rescind the conscience clause.

Dr. Donald Thompson just retired after 27 years service in the Air Force, often facing danger in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years.

"Little did I know that the most basic constitutional liberties for which I fought - free exercise of religious expression and freedom of speech - would come under attack by the very same elected leaders who swore, as I did, to protect and defend our Constitution," Thompson said.

"If my First Amendment rights may be so easily disregarded, I have to wonder 'then whose rights are safe?'" Christiansen said.

Pollster Kellyanne Conway said her brand-new survey shows an overwhelming 87 percent of those polled believe medical professionals should be protected.

"The conscience rights of medical professionals is almost an inalienable right, and they believe it is one that should be protected," said Conway, a pollster with the polling company Woman Trend.

Dr. John Bruchalski heads up a pro-life OB/GYN medical practice in Fairfax, Va.

"Respecting the right of conscience is the basis for all our freedoms. Conscience tells us what we ought to do. If conscience is compromised, freedom becomes a facade...a farce."

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