Catholic Senators Reject Conscience Protection After Bishops Call for Support

Only 9 Catholic Senators supported the Coburn amendment - 16 Reject.
by Lisa Correnti | Source:

Yesterday, pro-life Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) offered an amendment to the budget bill that would protect the conscience clause for health care workers, which is currently under review and may be rescinded by President Obama.

The Coburn amendment stated, "To protect the freedom of conscience for patients and the right of health care providers to serve patients without violating their moral and religious convictions."

The amendment was rejected 41-56. Sixteen Catholic Senators failed to recognize the importance of this regulation which would guarantee the rights of conscience for all Americans.

Without the protection of the conscience clause many people with religious beliefs will be forced to take part in professional duties that compromise their moral convictions.

Last month, Bishop William F. Murphy, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), responded to the Obama administrations announcement of their intent to remove the HHS protections.

Taking back the regulations "raises a real issue, because the statutes are intended to protect human rights – rights of conscience and rights of freedom of religion," Bishop Murphy said. "So why should everyone be concerned about this? Because if one person's rights can be compromised, everybody's rights can be compromised."

Bishop Murphy went on to say that the Bishops cannot do this alone. He issued a direct call to Catholics to respond to this threat on their religious freedom.

"The lay men and women of our churches, of our parishes and dioceses across the country have to be the voices of the Catholic Church today. Their voice is stronger than ours in many instances because they are the constituents, because they vote and because the politicians know they need the votes to be re-elected."

Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl also urged Catholics to take action and make their voices heard. Speaking to the John Carroll Society on March 22, CNS reported the Archbishop stating, "If a federal regulation protecting the conscience rights of health care providers is revoked, Catholic doctors, nurses and others may be required to participate in abortion or other procedures that violate their moral or religious principles."

Apparently some Catholic lawmakers do not see this as a violation of one's religious freedom. Do they believe one's right to obtain a chemical or surgical abortion trumps the rights of all others? It is time these Catholic Senators hear from their bishops and you, their Catholic constituents.

The nine Catholic Senators voting to support the Coburn amendment were; Murkowski (R-AK), Martinez (R-FL), Risch (R-ID), Brownback (R-KS), Bunning (R-KY), Vitter (R-LA), Johanns(R-NE), Voinovich (R-OH), and Casey (D-PA). This is the third pro-life vote Senator Casey has cast since being publicly admonished by his local ordinary, Bishop Martino.

The Catholic Senators opposing the Coburn amendment are Senators; Begich (D-AK), Dodd (D-CT), Kaufman (D-CT), Durbin (D-IL), Harkin (D-IA), Landrieu (D- LA), Collins (R-ME), Mikulski (D-MD), Kerry (D-MA), McCaskill (D-MO), Menendez (D-NJ), Gillibrand (D-NY), Reed (D-RI), Leahy (D-VT), Cantwell (D-WA), Murray (D-WA). Senator Kennedy did not vote. 

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