The importance of the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA)

Since 2004, Congress’ Weldon conscience amendment has paved the way toward fuller conscience protections for healthcare professionals in America.  Now, Pro-Life advocates are working to secure stronger guarantees that their right to practice Life-affirming medicine will not be impinged by discrimination against their deeply-held views.  To this end, Pro-Life legislators have fought to include the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA) in appropriations bills for the upcoming fiscal year. 

Conscience protections currently in effect have proven insufficient in manifold cases.  The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) reports:

Cathy DeCarlo, a nurse at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York, was forced to take part in the gruesome dismemberment of a 22- week-old unborn child in 2009, and saw no resolution of her complaint to the HHS Office of Civil Rights until 2013.  Nurses have been told by Vanderbilt University and by a state-run medical center in New York that they must assist in abortions against their consciences.  In August 2014, Catholic and other religious organizations in California were told by the state department of managed health care that they must include unlimited elective abortions in their health plans for employees.  And in 2011, a major Catholic organization providing exemplary service for victims of human trafficking was denied a federal grant to continue its work, in large part because it would not pledge to send these victims only to health care providers willing to help provide abortions.

Indeed, doctors and nurses have been forced to fight for their right simply not to participate in violence against preborn children.  In 2011, twelve courageous nurses in New Jersey were forced to take legal action against their hospital after being told that they must either participate in the commission of abortions, or lose their jobs.  The National Right to Life Committee, which has supported ANDA since the bill’s inception in 2002, affirms:  “Enactment of this [ANDA] bill is needed to protect the right of health care providers to refuse to perform or otherwise participate in the performance of abortions.”

Abortion zealots attempt to upend the argument for conscience protections by stating that healthcare providers have no right to refuse abortion because there are cases when elective abortion “is best for the patient.”  This fallacious argument was peddled during a college course at the University of California at San Francisco last year by abortionist-professor Jody Steinauer.  Steinauer argued against conscience protections for Pro-Life healthcare professionals, saying: “there may be times when our personal beliefs may conflict with what is best for the patient, and then this becomes really an important issue to consider in our practice.”  Steinauer reduces the commitment to “do no harm” to a tenuous “personal belief,” when healthcare providers the world over have committed themselves to only engage in Life-affirming, Life-protecting medical care. 

Now, ANDA faces a critical deadline next month.  “We havemade good progress in a short time,” said the USCCB Associate Director of Pro-Life Activities, Richard Doerflinger.  “In the next two to three weeks, however, we believe we need to more fully mobilize the rank-and-file members of Congress.  We will need as many people as possible around the country to send e-mail messages to their elected representatives urging them to make ANDA part of that final legislation.”

The USCCB’s partner organization in promoting ANDA is the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment (NCHLA).  NCHLA has made contacting elected officials to voice support for the ANDA simple.  Visit this page­ to find contact information and action steps.