Pope in the church. Back view
Pope in the church. Back view
Humanize From Discovery Institute's Center on Human Exceptionalism

Equality Act’s Attack on Religious Liberty, Medical Conscience

View at National Review

President Biden said during the campaign that he supported the Equality Act, which is being sold as a means of guaranteeing equality for LGBT people.

But it does more than that. It would destroy medical conscience by removing existing protections that permit doctors and nurses to refuse participation in abortion, and it would gut the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The Charlotte Lozier Institute’s associate scholar Richard Doerflinger explains in a white paper he authored on the bill. From “The ‘Equality Act’: Threatening Life and Equality:”

The Equality Act’s new freestanding ban on pregnancy discrimination . . . adds the new requirement for women to receive “treatment” for pregnancy that is as “favorable” as treatment for any other “physical condition” . . . . It provides rules of construction indicating that the new requirement should be interpreted as broadly as possible. . . . And it negates the existing religious freedom law that allows believers to seek an exemption from such requirements based on sincere religious beliefs such as respect for human life.

That’s the end of medical conscience, an aspect of freedom of religion that permits doctors and nurses to refuse to participate in the termination of pregnancies.

That’s not all. The bill guts the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as a defense against acts deemed discriminatory in the bill. Among other wrongs, this could force Catholic hospitals to permit sterilization, contraception, abortion, and transgender surgeries on premises despite their being prohibited by Catholic moral teaching.

Interestingly the ACLU once understood the importance of protecting Catholic hospitals from such impositions. It now supports the Equality Act:

It is notable that in 1992 the ACLU recognized a religious hospital’s right to decline involvement even in contraception. This is also a service related to pregnancy, so would presumably be required of religious hospitals under the Equality Act – as would removal of a woman’s healthy uterus, surgically sterilizing her, to facilitate her transition to a male gender identity.

As noted above, the Equality Act’s mandates and its elimination of any defense under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act would also reverse the outcome of Supreme Court cases on the Affordable Care Act, subjecting the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious entities to a mandate for contraceptive and early abortifacient  coverage.

Read the whole paper. It is a sobering assessment.

The Equality Act is a blatant act of cultural imperialism and a high-priority agenda item for the new administration and the Democrat-controlled Congress. So much for “unity.”

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.