Benishek Backs "Conscience Act"

In response to a recent regulatory decision by the Obama Administration, Michigan’s First District Congressman Dan Benishek has endorsed the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act” (H.R. 1179. The bill is designed to protect the rights of individuals to provide, purchase, or enroll in health coverage that is in line with their religion and moral convictions.

“Religious liberty is one of the cornerstones of America’s democracy and any threat to it must be stopped. I support this bill because it will ensure that health care stakeholders retain the right to provide or enroll in health insurance that is consistent with their religious beliefs without the fear of discrimination,” said Benishek.

Benishek signed onto the legislation after the Department Health and Human Services’ recent ruling that would require all employers to provide health plans that provide coverage for contraception, sterilization, and, in some cases, abortion-inducing drugs. The regulation is part of President Obama’s new health care law, the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (PPACA). This regulation is scheduled to take effect on August 1, 2012, and all employers will have to be in compliance by August 1, 2013.

“While I have long been a vocal critic of President Obama’s plan to ‘reform’ health care, there is nothing I find more objectionable than this attempt to override our religious freedom through regulatory overreach,” observed the Iron Mountain surgeon.

The “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act” is supported by numerous organizations including the American Center for Law and Justice and United States Conference of Catholic Bishop. Recently, more than 400 Catholic leaders wrote to the Administration asking for the rule to be overturned.

“Just as Thomas Jefferson understood ‘that no provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience,’ I feel it is imperative that Congress bring this bill to the floor for passage immediately,” added Benishek.

The “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act” (H.R. 1179) was introduced by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (NE-01) and currently has 137 cosponsors. The bill has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Health.