Secular Coalition Opposes Amendments to Baucus' Health Care Reform bill

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Jesse Galef
202-299-1091
jesse@secular.org

Secular Coalition Opposes Amendments to Baucus' Health Care Reform bill

WASHINGTON - The Secular Coalition for America is actively lobbying in opposition
to two amendments proposed to the Senate Finance Committee's health
care reform bill which will be voted on this week.

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has submitted an amendment requesting
that funding for Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage be restored.
Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming) has submitted an amendment to ensure that
conscience protections are applied in the healthcare reform bill. Both
of these amendments privilege religious values over patients' and
students’ rights to ethical treatment and medically-accurate
information.

The letter to the members of the Senate Finance Committee that
details why the Secular Coalition opposes these amendments is below. 

September 22, 2009

Hon. Senator
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Senator,

On
behalf of the Secular Coalition for America and the thousands of
nontheistic Americans who support our organization, I write to urge you
to vote against two amendments to the Senate Finance health care reform
bill that will be offered in committee this week.

Senator
Orrin Hatch has submitted amendment #C10 requesting that funding for
Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage be restored. Senator Michael
Enzi has submitted amendment #C15 to ensure that conscience protections
are applied in the healthcare reform bill. Please oppose these two
amendments. Both of these amendments privilege religious values over
patients and students’ rights to ethical treatment and
medically-accurate information.

Congress has already provided $
1.5 billion for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs since 1996
despite the fact that there is no evidence that abstinence-only
programs have been effective in stopping or even delaying teen sex.
Numerous studies, including a 10-year government funded evaluation of
the Title V abstinence-only program, found that these programs do not
delay sexual initiation and have no beneficial impact on young people’s
sexual behavior.  Please oppose Hatch Amendment #C10.

The Enzi
Amendment inappropriately places the religious beliefs of medical
professionals above the medical needs of their patients, and undermines
patients’ access to contraception, end-of-life care, HIV care, and any
other care to which a health care provider may object.  In addition,
this amendment would allow health care providers and entities to
withhold information from patients about their health care status and
their treatment options in violation of informed consent and ethical
standards.

Medical professionals (whether they are doctors,
pharmacists, technicians, or emergency medical technicians) are
employed in the field of medicine, not spirituality. They have the
right to consider their own religious beliefs in determining what
medical decisions they make for their own care, but their personal
religion should never infringe on the right of a patient to seek
products or procedures that they have a legal right to obtain. 
Moreover, health care workers or volunteers who have responsibilities
for federally funded research or other programs should never undermine
a program for which they work because they have religious objections to
the program. Please oppose Enzi Amendment #C15.

Please maintain your strong church-state record by opposing these amendments.

Sincerely,

Sasha Bartolf
Legislative Director

###

The Secular Coalition for America represents nine national coalition partners who share the view that a secular government offers the best guarantee for freedom of thought and belief for all Americans. It works to protect the civil rights of nontheistic Americans, and lobbies the U.S. Congress on issues of concern to its constituents. The Coalition's website is www.secular.org.

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