Conscience Rule

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The Conscience Rule is a federal regulation issued by the Bush Administration on Dec. 19, 2008, which protects pro-life caregivers against discrimination for exercising their conscientious objection to anti-life procedures and drugs. The rules against discrimination protects individual employees and institutions receiving certain funding from HHS. Recipients of certain HHS funding must certify their compliance, and complaints will be handled by the HHS Office for Civil Rights.

Concerned Women for America, a large public policy group, stated about the Conscience Rule that:[1]

Abortion groups are desperate to change the topic from abortion to birth control, and to deny health care providers the right to choose not to commit abortions. Forcing doctors, nurses and other health care providers to commit abortions would drive pro-life professionals out of the profession at a time when we need more doctors and nurses. It would deny patients the ability to choose doctors and health care providers who share their strong moral views. Many patients cannot trust their health to a doctor or nurse who performs abortions.


Shortly after the passage of Roe v. Wade, a court ordered a Christian hospital to participate in sterilization in violation of the religious tenets of the hospital. Congress then passed the first "Church Amendment," which was named after Senator Frank Church:[2]

No entity which receives a grant, contract, loan, or loan guarantee under [various federal funding acts] may–
(A) discriminate in the employment, promotion, or termination of employment of any physician or other health care personnel, or
(B) discriminate in the extension of staff or other privileges to any physician or other health care personnel ... because he refused to perform or assist in the performance of [sterilization] or abortion on the grounds that his performance or assistance in the performance of the procedure or abortion would be contrary to his religious beliefs or moral convictions.


"No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprise of civil authority." - Thomas Jefferson

Legal Challenges

Seven states sued the federal government over the new rule that expands protections for doctors and other health care workers who refuse to participate in abortions because of religious or moral objections.[3] The states suing; California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon and Rhode Island joined Connecticut in the lawsuit. In a separate lawsuit, Planned Parenthood of Federation of America Inc. and National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association are suing as well.

See also


  2. 42 U.S.C.A. § 300a-7(c)(1).
  3. 7 States Sue over Bush Rule on Health Workers AP, January 15, 2008