The US House of Representatives took a huge step toward further protecting religious liberty and freedom of conscience yesterday, passing the H.R. 4828–Conscience Protection Act by a vote of 245 to 182. The bill would protect healthcare providers, which include health insurance plans, against discrimination if they decline to be involved in abortion due to sincerely held moral or religious beliefs.
There is currently a law known as the Weldon Amendment, which is designed to protect healthcare providers, including health insurance plans, from discrimination based on their beliefs about abortion. Under this law, if an individual or organization faces discrimination because they do “not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions,” they must file a complaint with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Two years ago, California’s Department of Managed Health Care notified all “health plans under its jurisdiction,” including those for churches, they had to immediately cover all elective abortions. In response, a group of churches in California filed a lawsuit using the Weldon Amendment, but the case has still not been resolved.
The Freedom of Conscience Act would open a second avenue of redress, allowing health care providers to file a civil suit claiming discrimination without having to exhaust the available government administrative remedies first.
Voted FOR H.R. 4828–Conscience Protection Act
US House District 2- Renee Ellmers (R-Cary)
US House District 3- Walter Jones Jr. (R-Farmville)
US House District 5- Virginia Foxx (R-Winston-Salem)
US House District 6- Mark Walker (R-Greensboro)
US House District 7- David Rouzer (R-Benson)
US House District 8- Richard Hudson (R-Concord)
US House District 9- Robert Pittenger (R-Charlotte)
US House District 10- Patrick McHenry (R-Cherryville)
US House District 11- Mark Meadows (R-Asheville)
US House District 13- George Holding (R-Raleigh)
Voted AGAINST H.R. 4828–Conscience Protection Act
US House District 1- G.K. Butterfield (D-Wilson)
US House District 4- David Price (D-Raleigh/Fayetteville)
US House District 12- Alma Adams (D-Greensboro/Charlotte)
The bill will now move on to the Senate for approval, and if passed, will end up on President Obama’s desk for final action.