Secular Coalition Opposes Amendments to Baucus' Health Care Reform bill

September 22nd- 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

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