The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other reproductive right opponents regularly proclaim that respect for religious liberty requires "conscience provisions," also known as refusal clauses, to be built into our nation's laws. Many of these provisions apply to individual conscience rights. But the expansive refusal clauses that the Bishops want to implement under the Affordable Care Act would allow not just individual medical providers, but entire institutions—hospitals, insurance companies, even employers—to opt out of providing any service to which they have a moral objection.
The Bishops and their colleagues try to claim moral high ground even as they place institutional conscience above women's health and rights. The refusal laws they champion are damaging and even dangerous. The Center for Reproductive Rights fights to ensure that all women have access to affordable reproductive health care, including contraception, obstetric and prenatal care, and safe abortion, regardless of their employer or health care provider. Institutions may not abridge the rights and beliefs of their employees or patients in the name of religious liberty.
Below is a list of resources on refusal laws from the Center for Reproductive Rights, including legal analyses, legal briefs, and opinion pieces that have appeared in the press.
Op-eds and Letters to the Editor: