The ability to affirm our nation’s traditional values is central to the First Amendment and America’s way of life. The inherent worth of an unborn child and the sacred religious traditions we practice—these are the foundations that create strong family units, and an even stronger society. As an elected official—but perhaps more importantly, as a husband, father, grandfather, and fellow American—I intend to fight continually for the freedom to practice these rights without being hindered by the government.
Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas state laws designed to protect women by requiring that abortion facilities meet certain health and safety standards. We’ve already seen what happens when poorly managed clinics are not held to the same specifications as other health clinics: negligence, unsanitary conditions, and—within the walls of Kermit Gosnell’s Philadelphia clinic—even murdering women along with their children. The abortion industry’s goal is to make money, not protect women, their children, or their families.
I have been unwavering in voting to support the value of life, beginning with conception. I fully support the investigative work of the Select Panel on Infant Lives, which has exposed the abortion industry’s selling of baby body parts. This panel has provided further evidence to justify the votes we’ve taken to defund America’s abortion giant. We’ve also passed legislation to prevent the abortion of infants after they can feel pain at the 20-week threshold. These bills strengthen our resolve to care for our future: our children.
Now, a new assault is taking place in the abortion debate: coercion.
Congress recently passed legislation through the House of Representatives that I’ve been working on since 2011, the Conscience Protection Act. My bill will ensure no one is forced to participate in any way in an abortion. My legislation affirms the decisions of hospitals, insurance providers and health care plans that do not want to offer, participate in, or fund abortions. The bill also ensures a private right of action, meaning a day in court, for victims of government discrimination. This is crucial to protecting the medical community and others from the whims of the government. Doctors should never be forced to end human life and nurses shouldn’t be threatened with the loss of a job or their license for choosing not to facilitate the destruction of human life. Yet, this is what some deem as a natural progression for the pro-abortion movement. They argue that providing abortion on demand as SCOTUS has done guarantees that all health care professionals will comply and provide abortion services. Those who fail to fall in line are accused of “discrimination.”
My bill was also fully supported by House Leadership, and passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support. My bill isn’t about overturning Roe v. Wade or reinstating the pro-life Texas laws, both of which I think are important. The Conscience Protection Act is about preserving the right to abide by your conscience, your faith, and your professional ethics.
After four decades-worth of life-affirming state and national responses to SCOTUS’ landmark decision in Roe v. Wade, one thing is clear: the court cannot be allowed to circumvent an individual’s right to disagree with the court’s conclusion on such fundamental principles. Without the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty our nation would not be where it is today. Now, more than ever, we must fight to ensure its preservation.
Dr. John Fleming is Chairman of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans and is a member of the House Armed Services Committee. He is a physician, small business owner, and co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus. He represents the 4th Congressional District of Louisiana.