Those who support the abortion liberty created by the U.S. Supreme Court exhibit what John T. Noonan, Jr. (A Private Choice, 1979) calls a “secret moral dynamism” (p. 89) to seek the expansion of the abortion liberty, even at the price of violating the conscience rights of others. In recent years, the need to protect conscience rights has increased significantly. Beginning in the 1990s, some at the federal level sought to require medical schools to provide training for abortion, and to require federal employees’ health plans to provide benefits for contraceptives with abortifacient properties. In the face of various growing threats, efforts were made to clarify and strengthen conscience protection in current federal law. In 2004, Congress passed the Hyde/Weldon Conscience Protection Amendment as a part of annual appropriations law.
Most recently, the challenge to protect conscience rights includes the correction of serious—and unprecedented—problems arising from the new health care reform law as well as from policies and programs of the Obama Administration. The protection of conscience rights now also includes the protection of religious liberty.
Other NCHLA issues pages to consult include: Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA); Federal Employees’ Health Benefits Plans (FEHB); Health Care Reform; Hyde Amendment; Medical Training Non-Discrimination (ACGME).