Freedom of Faith and Conscience | Right of Conscience
CMA Doctors Laud Administration’s Common Sense Approach to Contraceptives and the First Amendment
The nation's largest faith-based association of doctors, the Christian Medical Association (www.cmda.org), today urged the Trump administration to follow through on a promised common sense contraceptives policy, outlined in a document leaked yesterday, that accommodates First Amendment freedom of religious exercise. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would implement the new policy under the leadership of Sec. Tom Price, a physician who as a Member of Congress promoted legislation to advance religious freedom.
Referring to the new policy draft, CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens noted, "The new common-sense policy makes clear that the federal government can and must pursue programs and establish policies in the context of respecting our First Amendment freedoms. This administration recognizes that there is no need, apart from sheer political and ideological coercion, to continue to force the nuns of Little Sisters of the Poor to participate in a contraceptives policy. We have full confidence that Dr. Price will implement this new policy fairly, reasonably and in accordance with First Amendment principles."
CMA had filed an amicus brief in the Little Sisters' Supreme Court case against the Obama administration, in which the eight-member Court ordered the government to work out a genuine religious accommodation that addressed the nuns' and others' conscience concerns.
CMA Senior Vice President Gene Rudd, MD, and Ob-Gyn physician, observed, "Despite the protests of some proponents of the original coercive contraceptives mandate, the new policy does not prevent any woman from obtaining contraceptives, which are ubiquitous and comparatively affordable. The government always has always had its own means of providing contraceptives, as our government does overseas, that do not involve coercion and violation of sincerely held religious beliefs."
CMA Executive Vice President Mike Chupp, a surgeon who spent years treating poor patients in Africa, noted, "Providing the poor with healthcare should never involve government coercion of faith-based health professionals or other faith-based charities--especially the very ones who are devoted to helping the poor. The same principles that compel faith-based charities to care for the poor are the same principles that require us to provide that care according to the moral tenets of our faith. We cannot separate our compassion and our convictions."
CMA strongly supported the 2008 HHS conscience protection rule for health professionals, and formed the Freedom2Care coalition to support the rule, which President Obama gutted soon after taking office.
Freedom2Care Director Jonathan Imbody noted, "If we let the government box in the faith community with unconstitutional restrictions on First Amendment freedom of religion like the Obama administration did, other administrations likewise can water down our freedom of speech, our freedom of the press and our freedom of assembly and petition. A threat to the First Amendment freedoms of one group is a threat to the First Amendment freedoms of every American."