Pro-Lifers Rally to Keep 'Conscience Clause'

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A key element in the fight to reduce abortions could end soon if the Obama administration has its way.

Last year, President George W. Bush strengthened the so-called "conscience clause" to protect medical professionals opposed to abortion. But President Obama wants it overturned.

To let your voice be heard on the "Conscience Clause," visit the Be Heard Project Web site or other links on the right side of the page.

It's a frontline battle for the pro-life community professionals opposed to abortion.

Conscience Protection

"If the conscience protection declines and declines, many of us may have to do something else," Dr. Lorna Cvetkovich said.

Click the player to watch the report from CBN News Reporter Heather Sells followed by Gordon Robertson's comments on the fundamental right of freedom of conscience.

Cvetkovich Is one of thousands of pro-life OBGYN's protesting President Obama's plan. She fears, as do many, that it's merely the first of many steps by the administration that will decimate conscience rights.

"I keep saying to myself 'freedom of conscience, freedom of religion' -- surely the entire population cannot come to the conclusion that I am a bad doctor, that I am a worthless doctor because I have those values," she said.

The administration has given the public until April 9 to comment on the proposal before it takes action. Already, more than 50,000 have signed a petition on this Generation X site. Catholics and the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists are also rallying.

You can send comments to asking that the existing regulations be maintained, but you must send your e-mail by the April 9 deadline.

Jobs at Risk

Just how might striking down the regulation affect healthcare providers? Pro-life doctors, nurses and even pharmacists say they won't have the same protection of conscience -- and that ultimately could put their jobs at risk.

"They should not be subject to intimidation or discrimination or termination in employment simply because they won't participate in or refer for abortion," said Clark Forsythe with Americans United for Life.

Medical professionals do have some conscience protection under the 1973 church amendment and two other federal statutes. But the 2008 provision, which Obama opposes, strengthens all three.

"The federal regulation gave a national basis upon which the right of conscience would be respected and if it was not -- those institutions would lose federal funding. So it not only had the protection -- it had the penalty if you violated it," said Jay Sekulow with the American Center for Law and Justice.

Pro-choice groups like Planned Parenthood argue the conscience rule hurts patients -- by limiting their access to healthcare.

CBN News tried to interview representatives from Health and Human Services, Planned Parenthood and the National Women's Law Center. All said they were unavailable.

Cvekovich admits her pro-life views can affect a practice's bottom-line.

"A lot of the revenue that's obtained from abortion, not to mention sterilization and contraception, is lost if you don't do those things," she said.

But she and other pro-lifers are hoping the Obama administration will rethink its views on conscience -- and keep their protection intact.

*Originally aired April 3, 2009

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CBN News
Heather Sells

Heather Sells

CBN News Reporter

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