On December 29, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued proposed revisions to a regulation that interprets various laws that protect the exercise of religious beliefs and moral convictions in healthcare, commonly called the “Conscience Rule.” In response, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, issued the following statement:
“While the proposed revision to the Conscience Rule will need time to digest, I am troubled by its implications that desire for abortion and other procedures can override rights of conscience. Pope Francis has called conscientious objection ‘the ultimate responsibility of healthcare professionals,’ one that ‘should never be negotiated.’ Strong majorities of Americans agree – in a USCCB study this year, 60% of registered voters said that a doctor should not be pressured or penalized by the government to perform abortions or gender transition procedures that go against his or her conscience.
“It is crucial that the federal government broadly interpret and robustly enforce our nation’s laws protecting this fundamental right of conscience and of health workers to do no harm. We will continue to review the proposed rule and file thorough comments at the appropriate time.”
More information on the Conscience Rule, the USCCB’s previous comments on this rule, and other regulations impacting religious freedom are available here.