The provision banning the discrimination is known as the Hyde-Weldon Conscience Protection Amendment. The measure containing it was signed into law Wednesday.
“We applaud President Bush’s recognition that hospitals and other health care providers have a right to choose not to be involved in destroying life,” said Cathy Cleaver Ruse, a spokeswoman for the bishops’ Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities.
“Over a million abortions are done every year by willing abortion providers in this country,” Ruse said. “It is outrageous to suggest that Catholic health care providers and others with moral objections should be forced into the practice of abortion.”
Federal law already protected “health care entities” from having to perform or provide for abortions, but that law had been misinterpreted to protect only residency training programs.
The Hyde-Weldon Amendment was needed so that individual physicians, hospitals, health plans, nurses, and other health care participants who choose not to do abortions would also be protected.