Imagine that you are a healthcare professional who is convinced that life begins at conception. Imagine that your employer insists that you offer women counseling regarding abortion options and requires you to prescribe contraceptive drugs–whether or not they have an abortifacient effect. Imagine that you are being forced to dishonor your faith or give up your profession and your livelihood. Now stop imagining and realize that this scenario is actually being played out every day in the United States as people are forced to violate their sincere beliefs out of fear of losing their employment and jeopardizing their careers.
Freedom of conscience and religious beliefs lies at the very heart of our Constitution. Yet this core freedom—the ability to hold personal religious beliefs and to live in accordance with those beliefs—is being threatened as never before.
Medical professionals are facing increased pressure to provide abortions, contraceptives and other forms of so-called health care, even when this would violate their consciences. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has been tasked with accepting complaints from employees forced to participate in abortion (if their employer is a recipient of specific federal funding). Waiting for action from this federal agency has hardly proved an adequate safeguard of religious freedom.
Ironically, it is this very same Department of Health and Human Services that has eviscerated rights of conscience for so many employers through the Contraceptive Mandate. In the name of “preventative health care,” insurers are required to provide coverage without co-pay for contraceptives, abortifacient drugs, and sterilization. Faced with violating their consciences or paying crippling fines, many employers have filed suit to block application of the mandate. LLDF has been active in these cases, submitting amicus briefs to argue that forced funding of contraceptives, far from promoting women’s health, will have a deleterious impact on women’s health.
The attacks on religious liberty have spurred some in Congress to action. In the House, Representatives Black and Fortenberry have introduced H.R. 940, the Health Care Conscience Rights Act. The Act would affirm a commitment to religious liberty by amending specific provisions of Obamacare “to protect rights of conscience with regard to requirements for coverage of specific items and services,” and would provide a private right of action for employees who are wrongfully forced to participate in abortion, among other things.
Action Item: For this important bill to pass, more support is needed. Your representative needs to hear how much you value your religious freedom. Contact your Member of Congress and urge him or her to stand up for religious freedom by becoming a co-sponsor of H.R. 940. Post your message in support of religious freedom on your social media page and urge your friends to join you in standing up for our first freedom. (Twitter users: join the Twitter campaign with the hash tags #ConscienceProtection #ReligiousFreedom.)