WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) today helped to introduce the Health Care Conscience Rights Act, a bill that would ensure that organizations, private businesses, institutions of higher education, health care providers, and insurance companies are not forced to sponsor insurance coverage that violates their religious or moral beliefs.
The Health Care Conscience Rights Act provides an exemption from the burdensome Obamacare Health and Human Services mandate, and ensures that individuals and health care providers are not forced with the choice of violating their conscience or paying a fine. The bill would prohibit any action by the federal government and any state or local government receiving federal financial assistance to subject a health professional, a hospital, a provider-sponsored organization, a health maintenance organization, an accountable care organization, a health insurance plan, or any other kind of health care facility, organization, or plan to discriminate on the basis that the entity refuses to participate in abortion-related activities.
"One of the cornerstones of our great nation is the protection of religious freedom for all,” said Boozman. “Unfortunately, Obamacare erodes this constitutionally-enshrined protection for so many Americans by forcing them to support actions that run counter to their religious beliefs. Our bill is an effort to restore those protections and ensure the rights of conscience are preserved for all Americans.”
Senator James Lankford (R-OK) authored the bill. Boozman and twelve other senators signed on as original cosponsors.
“Our nation is divided on various issues, but the fabric of America is built on the First Amendment rights of free speech and the free exercise of religion. This should be something we all agree on,” said Lankford, who is the lead sponsor. “It is possible for people with opposing views to live together in peace but we all must respect our different beliefs. The federal government should respect freedom and conscience rights for everyone; this bill would assure that happens.”
The bill creates a cause of action for any violation of the abortion discrimination prohibition. It gives federal courts jurisdiction to prevent and redress actual or threatened violations of such prohibition by issuing any form of legal or equitable relief, including injunctions and orders preventing the disbursement of all or a portion of federal financial assistance until the prohibited conduct has ceased.
Along with Boozman, Senators Jim Inhofe (R-OK), John McCain (R-AZ), Rob Portman (R-OH), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Bob Corker (R-TN), Dan Coats (R-IN), Steve Daines (R-MT), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and Jerry Moran (R-KS) are original cosponsors.
Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) has introduced a companion bill in the House. Former Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) introduced the bill in the Senate during the last Congress.