Last Day for Conscience Clause Comments

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WASHINGTON -- Today is the last day for the public to weigh in on whether it backs the Obama administration's decision to wipe out the conscience clause.

The conscience clause is the regulation the Bush administration created to protect pro-life medical professionals, because so many have been facing discrimination.

At the forefront of the battle to save the clause is Dr. David Stevens, head of the Christian Medical Association.

Click the player to watch the report from CBN News Senior Washington Correspondent Paul Strand.

He told CBN News in an exclusive interview the discrimination is very real.

"We're having report after report of medical students not being able to get into school," he explained. "Because they're asked the question: 'What if you had a 14-year-old come in and was pregnant, how would you handle that?' in their admission interview and if you don't offer abortion as an option, you don't get in."

Who Will Step Into The Gap?

Dozens of medical professionals showed up at a Washington news conference Wednesday to say they are afraid they will be run out of the medical profession.or have to quit.

Dr. Sandy Christiansen works with crisis pregnancy centers and is Care Net National's main medical consultant.

"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," she said. "And I have to wonder, if we are chased out of medicine, who will step into the gap?"

Stevens said one out of four Christian Medical Association members say they've already faced discrimination. Two out of five say they have already been pressured to violate their conscience.

By stripping away the conscience clause, Stevens said the Obama administration is sending a message.

"Essentially, what they're saying is it's open season on faith-based professionals - doctors, nurses, and others," he said. "And discriminate against them all you want, because we're not going to prosecute you. It's like them saying tomorrow we have speed limits, but we're not going to enforce them. How fast would people drive?"

Not Just A Threat To Doctors

Dr. John Bruchalski heads up Divine Mercy Care, a pro-life OB/GYN medical practice in Fairfax County, Virginia. He said all Americans should be wary of what's happening to the conscience clause, because it represents a threat to all freedoms.

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

Stevens told CBN News this isn't just about abortion.

"It's much bigger than that. Just look at what's on the horizon - physician assisted suicides legal in three states," he said. "In Montana, where they legalized it in November there's absolutely no protection for health care professionals who say they don't want to do this, and so somebody could sue you for not providing the help in them killing themselves. That's just unbelievable."

Stevens said he knew there was a concentrated effort to force pro-life medical types out of the field, but he's surprised at the speed that effort's moving forward.

"I didn't think it would get this bad this fast," he said. "I mean we've had these pressures in the past, but they're really ramped up. Planned Parenthood, the ACLU where they had this as a top agenda item to do away with what they call 'the right of refusal' now have friends in Congress, friends in the White House who are abetting them in this effort, and that's the scary thing," he continued.  I debate them and they say very bluntly on NPR for millions of people to hear.  If you're not willing to provide legal reproductive service, you shouldn't be in health care."

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Paul Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Senior Washington Correspondent

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