Two members of Congress have called on President Barack Obama to make good on something he said in his May 17 speech to University of Notre Dame graduates, namely that he wished to "honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion." At a May 19 press conference in Washington, D.C., and in a letter sent that day to the president, Representatives James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., and Chris Smith, R-N.J., urged Obama to forgo rescinding the Bush administration's conscience-protection regulation. They also asked Obama to "commit to defending conscience protections in future rule-making."
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proposed to rescind the conscience clause that gives federal protection to the conscience rights of health care providers. The rule, which took effect two days before Obama took office, codifies three longtime federal statutes prohibiting discrimination against health professionals who decline to participate in abortions or other medical procedures because of their religious or moral objections. The congressmen's letter stressed that Obama should use all the tools at his disposal "to keep conscience protections in place and reduce the number of abortions in the United States."