August 21, 2008

Bishops Welcome HHS Regulations Protecting Conscience Rights In Health Care

WASHINGTON, Aug. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Federal regulations protecting health care providers' conscience rights were released for public comment August 21, by Secretary Michael Leavitt of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The U.S. Catholic bishops' spokesperson on abortion, Deirdre A. McQuade, welcomed the proposed regulations as a way to protect medical personnel from being coerced to violate their consciences in federally funded programs.

"Doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel face pressure to participate in abortion - a practice that many find abhorrent in good conscience," McQuade said. "The enforcement of federal laws designed to protect their freedom of conscience is long overdue."

"This is not just about Catholic health care. Catholics do not stand alone in opposition to the deliberate destruction of nascent human life. All health care providers should be free to serve their patients without violating their most deeply held moral and religious convictions on the value of life," McQuade said.

"Organizations calling themselves 'pro-choice' are actually pro-coercion in seeking to deny the freedom of doctors and nurses," McQuade said. "Don't doctors have the right to choose not to participate?"

"Over the coming thirty days of public comment, the bishops urge the pro-life American public to thank Secretary Leavitt and encourage HHS to implement the strongest possible regulations," McQuade said.

On July 18, Cardinal Rigali, chair of the bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities, wrote to Congress urging all Senators and Representatives to support conscience protection measures. The full text of his letter may be found at:

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat for Pro-Life

CONTACT: Mar Munoz-Visoso of U.S. Conference of Catholic BishopsSecretariat for Pro-Life Activities, +1-202-541-3202, +1-301-646-8616 (cell)

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