Legislation / Court Cases

Physician Right of Conscience Protected (30Sept05)

A federal court dismissed a lawsuit that sought to overturn the Weldon Amendment, a law forbidding state and local governments that receive federal funds from discriminating against health-care providers because they refuse to perform or refer patients for abortions.

The court dismissed the case filed by the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, saying the arguments against the amendment “fall short” and have no “satisfactory basis”…

“This is a significant victory for pro-life health care workers who are protected by the Weldon Amendment,” said Chief Litigation Counsel Steven H. Aden [Christian Legal Society’s Center for Law and Religious Freedom].

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia made its decision 28September05 after granting two associations of pro-life medical professionals – Christian Medical Association and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists – the right to intervene as defendants.

The court then dismissed the case filed by the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, saying the arguments against the amendment “fall short” and have no “satisfactory basis.” The NFPRHA argued the amendment is unconstitutional.

“NFPRHA’s lawsuit was without merit,” Aden said. “We applaud the court’s decision to dismiss the case and agree with its decision to allow our clients the right to be represented in any appeals, since it so clearly has ramifications for their members.”

In its opinion [pdf file] the court said it cannot conclude “that the Weldon Amendment overreaches Congress’s spending powers, exceeds the permissible boundaries of legislative delegation, meets the rigorous void-for-vagueness test, or is otherwise constitutionally infirm on its face.”

Aden said the decision upholds Congress’ intentions in enacting the legislation: “The thousands of pro-life physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals in the pro-life medical groups we represent in the lawsuit are thankful that their convictions will continue to be protected by the Weldon Amendment,” Aden said. “The court saw through the false cries of ‘wolf’ raised by the pro-abortion groups who are arrayed against conscience protections in the medical community.”  [World Net Daily, 30Sept05; http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=46589]