NPR, November 26, 2018
Mara Gordon


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Doctors who are opposed to abortions don't have to provide them. Since the 1970s, a series of federal rules have provided clinicians with "conscience protections" that help them keep their jobs if they don't want to perform or assist with the procedure.

Religious hospitals are also protected. Catholic health care systems, for example, are protected if they choose not to provide abortions or sterilizations. Doctors who work for religious hospitals usually sign contracts that they'll uphold religious values in their work.

But as the reach of Catholic-affiliated health care grows, these protections are starting to have consequences for doctors who dowant to perform abortions — even as a side job.

Religious hospitals often prohibit their doctors from performing abortions — even if they do so at unaffiliated clinics, says Noel León, a lawyer with the National Women's Law Center. León was hired about two years ago to help physicians who want to be abortion providers. They have little in the way of legal protection, she says.

"Institutions are using the institutional religious and moral beliefs to interfere with employees' religious and moral beliefs," León says. [...]

abortion bioethics conscience health law policy market public health regulation religion reproductive rights women's health