Catholics in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia are urged to take part on the weekend of May 20-21 in a nationwide program called Take Action Sunday, in which parishioners are asked to contact their members of Congress to support the Conscience Protection Act.
The bill would codify into permanent law protection for health care providers who do not wish to have abortion coverage in their health plans.
“Passage of the Conscience Protection Act (CPA) continues to be a top legislative priority for the USCCB Committee for Pro-Life Activities and a call to action has been issued,” Archbishop Chaput wrote in a recent letter to parishes.
The provisions of the CPA mirror what has since the 1990s been known as the Weldon Amendment, an provision tacked on to annual appropriation bills and named for Florida Rep. Dave Weldon, who first introduced it.
By passing the CPA it would be no longer necessary to add the amendment to the appropriations bills each year.
The Weldon Amendment is similar in structure but different in meaning to the annual Hyde Amendment, which restricts the use of federal funding for abortions in certain instances.
The proposed CPA bill “will write into permanent law the core policy of the Weldon Amendment, which protects those who decline to perform, pay for, refer for, or provide coverage for abortion,” according to a letter issued by HLA (Human Life Action), which serves the legislative agenda of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “The CPA also clarifies the protection of Weldon and adds a private right to action to enforce this law and other longstanding conscience laws on abortion.”
The latter is important, because under the Obama administration the amendment was not enforced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services when California chose to ignore it and the right of individuals to sue was not spelled out.
Last year a similar CPA bill was proposed but never enacted. It is hoped this year with a stronger pro-life presence in Congress and a more receptive federal administration, it can be enacted.
This year’s bill, HR 644, was introduced on Jan. 24 by Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.).
A summary, which could change in a final version, reads: “This bill amends the public service Act to codify the prohibition against the federal government and state and local governments to receive federal financial assistance for health-related activities penalizing or discriminating against a health care provider based on the provider’s refusal to be involved in or provide coverage for abortion. Health care providers include health care professionals, health care facilities, social service providers, health care professional programs and health insurers.
“The Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services in coordination with the Department of Justice (DOJ) must oversee complaints alleging discrimination based on an individual’s religious belief, moral belief, moral conviction or refusal to be involved in an abortion.
“DOJ or any equity adversely affected by such discrimination may obtain equitable or legal relief in a civil action. Administrative remedies do not need to be sought or exhausted prior to commencing an action or granting relief. Such an action may be brought against a government entity.”
All of the materials needed to implement Take Action Sunday at the parish level can be found on HLA’s website humanlifeaction.org.
This includes everything from a “how-to” video to model church bulletins to pulpit announcements and step-by-step directions to guide parish volunteers.
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103