House Passes Rep. Black's Conscience Protection Act
To watch Rep. Black’s remarks on the House floor, click HERE or the image above
Washington, D.C. – Today the House of Representatives passed Congressman Diane Black’s (R-TN-06) legislation, the Conscience Protection Act, by a bipartisan vote of 245 – 182. The legislation amends the Public Health Service Act (PHSA) to prevent any federal state, or local government from penalizing or otherwise discriminating against a health care provider on the basis that the provider does not participate in abortion. Earlier today, Congressman Black spoke in support of the legislation on the House floor. To watch a video of her remarks, click here. A full transcript is provided below:
Madam Speaker, today I rise in strong support of my bill: S. 304, the Conscience Protection Act of 2016. This legislation would prevent governments from penalizing or in any way discriminating against a healthcare provider for refusing to participate in abortion.
In doing so, it would codify an act known as the Weldon Amendment, which has been attached to annual spending bills since 2004 with bipartisan support. But importantly, the bill would also take the law a step further; allowing for a civil right of action so that victims of abortion discrimination can have their day in court.
Today, if you believe you have been discriminated against on the basis of refusing to be involved in abortion, you appeal to the Obama Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services.
In the case of Cathy Cenzon-Decarlo, a pro-life nurse from New York forced by her employer to assist in the abortion of a 22-week preborn baby, it took it took HHS three years to close its investigation into her case.
And in California, where the state Department of Managed Health Care required all insurance plans in the state to offer coverage of elective abortion, HHS took two years to determine that no violation of the law had occurred – this despite the fact that churches and Christian universities are now required to subsidize abortion through their insurance plans.
Congress must step in to clarify and strengthen our laws so that the conscience rights of every American are protected – because, Madam. Speaker, if we lose the right to live according to our own convictions, particularly on a matter as deeply affecting as abortion, we don’t have much left – do we?
After all, it was Thomas Jefferson who reminded us that “No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority.”
President Obama himself echoed this statement in 2009, saying “Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion.”
If my colleagues won’t listen to the pleas of pro-life Americans asking for protection of their most basic rights, maybe they will listen to the words of their own President.
With this bill, I’m not seeking to change anyone’s mind on abortion, though I hope I can one day.
I’m not asking my colleagues to rule anyone’s abortion illegal, though every act of abortion breaks my heart.
I’m not asking my colleagues to withhold a dime from a single abortion provider, although I will continue fighting to stop sending my constituents’ tax dollars to industries that take human life.
Today, I’m simply asking the members of this body to allow the millions of Americans who believe, as I do, in the sanctity of every life, to abide by those beliefs without having them trampled upon by their own government.
I urge a yes vote on this very compassionate, reasonable, and modest bill, and I yield back the balance of my time.
Rep. Black Defends Conscience Protection Act at House Committee Meeting
Rep. Black’s Op-Ed in the Washington Examiner: Conscience Protection Act Protects Pro-Life Americans’ Freedom to Believe