September 27, 2011
Dear Rev. Mr. Giglio,
Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding the conscience protections, especially the right not to be forced to participate in abortion, for healthcare providers. I can't effectively serve as your voice in the House of Representatives unless I know what matters most to you, so I appreciate hearing where you stand on this very important issue.
Federal conscience laws have existed since 1973. However, the United States has no comprehensive law that universally protects healthcare providers from being forced to participate in medical procedures that may be against their religious beliefs, such as abortion. Since the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, many people have expressed concerns that the definition of "acceptable coverage" may include abortion.
In response to these concerns, as you may know, Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) introduced H.R. 1179, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011. This legislation amends ObamaCare to permit a health plan to decline coverage of specific items and services that are contrary to the religious beliefs of the sponsor, issuer, or other entity offering the plan or the purchaser or beneficiary without penalty. The bill also declares that nothing in ObamaCare can be construed to authorize a health plan to require a provider to provide, participate in, or refer for a specific item or service contrary to the provider's religious beliefs or moral convictions.
I have always been open about the fact that I am pro-life. I do not believe that healthcare providers, whether doctors, nurses, or insurers, should be forced to perform a procedure that is against their religious beliefs. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is currently considering H.R. 1179. Although I am not a member of this committee, rest assured that should the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011 come to the House floor for a clean vote, I will support it.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me regarding conscience protections for healthcare providers. I truly appreciate hearing your thoughts on this important and personal issue. I hope you'll continue to keep in touch about the many critical concerns facing our nation. To that end, you can always find my contact information on my website at http://nugent.house.gov. While there, I hope you'll also consider registering for my newsletter if you haven't yet done so.