Proponents of a presumed right to abortion characterize it as a “right to choose.” How ironic that last week the federal government denied that very right from a different perspective.

Under law, Americans can choose abortion, the undeniable destruction of a human life. Federal regulations approved last December laudably allowed health care workers to refuse to participate in abortion or other practices that, while legal, violated the dictates of a person’s properly formed conscience.

The Department of Health and Human Services proposes to rescind the right of workers in hospitals and clinics to exercise their conscience in respect of the oldest of human laws: You shall not kill.

Under the proposal, federal funding could be withdrawn from a hospital that allows its doctors, nurses, pharmacists or other professionals the right to choose not to participate in practices that those people find morally offensive.

There is precedence for allowing inspaniduals to express their most deeply held convictions in opposition to standing policy. During World War II, conscientious objectors such as Quakers opposed America’s role in the war. Compelled by the dictates of their conscience, those inspaniduals preferred public ridicule and perhaps a jail sentence rather than directly killing another human being on a battlefield. The federal government respected their position and, in lieu of conscripting them into military service, assigned them to roles of civilian service.

Today’s health professionals who object to conscription in a medical culture that pays lip service to rights need the support of concerned Americans.

Health care workers who hold in high regard the Hippocratic oath to “do no harm,” let alone their own deepest moral convictions, must know that they do not face this fight alone.

At this point, the Office of Management and Budget, the agency with responsibility to review the conscience proposal, intends to publish it in the Federal Register. Once that happens, people will have an opportunity for 30 days to offer their comments on the proposal.

Watch this space or our web site,, for information expected in coming days for the beginning of the public comment period. We’ll provide an address to send those comments on this important issue.

Let the Obama administration know that respect of conscience rights is a point of pride long held in the American tradition. Express your voice in public life by opposing this proposal.