by Gerald Dworkin
At least since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973 the issue of Conscientious Objection (henceforth CO) has been an important one in the context of Catholic hospitals and women patients. Such hospitals object to the provision of abortions, contraceptives, sterilization, fertility care, and “gender-affirming care” such as hormone treatments and surgeries.
In 1973 the Church (the Senator not the institution!) Amendment was passed. This stated that individuals in institutions receiving federal funds may not be required to perform sterilization or abortions contrary to their religion or conscience. No such individual shall be required to perform or assist in any health service program or research activity if such program or activity was contrary to his religious beliefs or moral convictions.
In 1997 when Medicare Advantage was passed it included a restriction that no such plan, nor any Medicaid-managed plan, was required to “provide, reimburse for, or provide coverage of a counseling or referral service if the organization objected to the service on moral or religious grounds.”
In 2010 the Patient Protection and Affordable Care act said a State could prohibit abortion in qualified health plans. It also introduced a new restriction. Government-funded institutions may not discriminate against individuals or institutions on the basis that such institutions do not provide any health care item or service for the purpose of causing, or for assistance in causing, the death of any individual such as by assisted-suicide. Read more »