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Ms. CAPPs. I am going to interrupt just because-Mr. Chairman, may I have 1 extra minute so that Ms. Weiss can also answer this question. I would like to get a survey from all.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Without objection, but your 27 seconds over already. Without objection, it is
Ms. CAPPS. Thirty seconds more.
Ms. WEISS. Of course there is a critical difference between institutions and individuals in this matter, and that is because when institutions claim rights of conscience they are very likely to be imposing their religious tenets on people who do not share them. That is to say there are conscientious rights on both-rights of conscience on both sides of the ledger. When an individual patient makes a decision not to have any more children, she is making a decision in which she is standing on moral ground. It is a decision about what is best for her and her family and her children. And that means that she has rights that need to be protected on that side of the ledger.
Ms. CAPPS. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PITTS. Thank you. Ms. Weiss, you mentioned in your testimony about Sophie Smith. Would you, for the record, provide more information to the committee on this case that you mention in your testimony, the blood clot?
Ms. WEISS. Yes, Representative. What information would you like?
Mr. PITTS. Well, just anything you have on it: The name of the hospital that you are talking about.
Ms. WEISS. The hospital was a sectarian hospital in Nebraska, and I have not mentioned its name in testimony because the physician in question, the one who called me, is fearful of violence and does not want to be revealed and continues to practice there. So I have not provided identifying information for that reason.
Mr. PITTS. Okay.
Ms. WEISS. I apologize. That is often a problem in providing identifying details in this field because of the ongoing problem of violence.
Mr. Pitts. In your line of reasoning, as I was seeking to follow it, you seem to say that any entity that takes public money can't have a conscience. A couple of days ago, an article appeared in the Burlington County Times about the purchase of a hospital in Burlington County by Our Lady of Lordes Health Care Services. And the article indicated that the ACLU in New Jersey had been challenging the purchase. The articles says that the ACLU is insisting that our Lady of Lordes, “add a separate building on the Rancocas Hospital campus where women could go for abortions.” Is it the position of the ACLU that Catholic hospitals, that our Lady of Lordes, should be required by law to build a separate clinic for abortions upon their property?
Ms. WEISS. Well, that is a very interesting case, Representative Pitts. That is a case in which a Catholic facility is acquiring or merging with a formally secular facility and trying to ensure that the new merged entity lives by the ethical and religious directives for Catholic health care services that govern Catholic facilities, thereby preventing abortions, sterilization, contraception, fertility treatments, a wide array of reproductive health care.
But the facility that it is buying was itself created by a charitable trust, and in that charitable trust there was—the intent of the donor was expressed to provide a wide array of health services to the low-income community in the relevant city in New Jersey. Now, the question in that case was does the conscience, the moral stance of the original donor to the secular institution have also rights or is it only that the Catholic facility has rights of conscience? And the answer is of course that is not the case. Both facilities were created by charitable trusts, both facilities have consciences, and the question is how do we can they merge, is there a way that they can affiliate and recognize the conscientious rights of both facilities? That is what is at issue in that case, that is why there is an ongoing debate about how to preserve the intent of the founders of the formally secular facility. That is why you are seeing that in the newspaper, sir.
Mr. PITTS. Thank you. I wish I could continue with you. Maybe we will have a second round, I don't know.
Professor Wardle, do you understand this bill to cover cases of emergency contraception that some providers may see as abortifacient? Does it expand or change the current legal definition of abortion anyway?
Mr. WARDLE. I don't think it changes the current definition of abortion in any way. But let me point out two things here. The critical issue is who decides what my rights of conscience are? Is it going to be for the ACLU to dictate the boundaries of my conscience? And if my definition of what is conscience and what is moral disagrees with them, can they force me to do their will? Can they deny me the opportunity to practice, if I were a doctor, practice medicine; if I were a health care administrator, to administer medicine? The question is who defines conscience? I am pleased to let Ms. Weiss define her own conscience but not to impose that on me. Likewise, if patients want to have medical services that I would not perform as a doctor, let Ms. Weiss direct them in the direction where they can get those services.
You see her definition of abortion is as an entitlement, a definition that has been repudiated at least five times by the United States Supreme Court, but she and the ACLU don't accept it. They believe that abortion is not just a right of private choice but it is an entitlement that has to be facilitated and you have to facilitate it. The distinction between public and private is specious in our economy that is so wholly publicized. The government takes my money then gives it back to me in manner of a student loan. Does that now make me as a student a public actor? Gives it back to me in the form of a license to practice medicine or a certificate of need to perform medical services. Does that make me a public actor? The public/private distinction is a specious distinction.
Mr. PITTS. I see that I am out of time.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Your time is expired. Would you gentlemen like to have an additional minute?
Mr. PITTS. Yes, sir, Mr. Chairman, if you don't mind.
Mr. PITTS. I will ask Professor Wardle, based on your research, do you recognize a concerted movement or an effort to require all hospitals to provide abortions? You made some reference to that. I would like you to expand.
Mr. WARDLE. Thank you, Mr. Pitts. Yes, and that is how the issue has changed. I have seen a dramatic change in 30 years. I have studied this for 30 years and written about it for nearly a quarter of a century, and you have seen a dramatic change in the dialog and the expectation from privacy. Just let us be able to choose this. We are not asking to force anybody to do anything. Just let us be able to choose to. Now, you have to facilitate, you have to perform, you have to pay.
Essentially, the position that has been articulated by Ms. Weiss this morning is that no Catholic hospital, and I would say not just Catholic but other religious affiliated hospitals and not just religious affiliated hospitals. We have here a witness from a sectarian hospital that asserted by democratic process a set of principles, right of conscience, forcing them to take a position. The position that is taken today is if you are a hospital that would decline to perform abortions, you cannot expand, you cannot merge, you cannot acquire, you cannot grow unless you are willing to do abortion.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. The gentleman's time has expired. Mr. Strickland to inquire.
Mr. STRICKLAND. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Wardle, I have a question in regard to your most recent comment that you have observed something over a 20- or 25-year period, and people have gone from just wanting to be able to make the choice to have that as some kind of right that could be imposed upon others. But I am just curious, do you agree with the first part of that? Do you believe that the person should be able to make a personal choice?
Mr. WARDLE. I believe that in some cases that is absolutely right. I think the Supreme Court could have reached the decision it did in Roe v. Wade without the absurd toddering doctrine that it put underneath it. In the case of rape, certainly, in the incest, in the case of life or a health threat.
Mr. STRICKLAND. You know, this really puzzles me because when we talk about the morality of abortion, when we talk about the taking of an innocent human life, then to say in case of rape, in case of incest. It seems to me that there is an inconsistency. If it is an innocent human life, then the child conceived as a result of rape or incest is also an innocent human life. Now, I believe in the right of a woman to choose, but I am just pointing out what I think is a glaring inconsistency among those who make these moral distinctions and still question the validity of a conscience of an individual who may have a different point of view.
Mr. WARDLE. Mr. Representative, I believe the question is, though, and I respect your point of view and the point you make is a very thoughtful and thought-provoking one, but is it for you to tell me what my conscience is or to tell Ms. Vosburgh what her conscience is or to tell Ms. Weiss?
Mr. STRICKLAND. No, it isn't, and that is why—this causes conflict within me, because I think what we are talking about here is an area that for thoughtful people results in internal conflict.
You said something about the mayor of New York. Would you, for my sake, repeat what you said that his comment was when someone was found to be pregnant?
Mr. WARDLE. I am quoting from news reports. “These media mogul reportedly once told a pregnant employee to, ‘kill it, kill it."" I would add, as I do in my written testimony, Bloomberg has denied making the comment, but it was cited in legal papers of Sekiko Sakai Garrison, a former Bloomberg news staffer, who brought one of three publicized sex harassment cases
Mr. STRICKLAND. Yes, sir.
Mr. STRICKLAND. I just think it would have been more fair of you to have relayed his denial at the time when you relayed what supposedly was his comment. I don't know Mr. Bloomberg, have no affiliation or any particular sympathy for him, but I think to put out such a statement without also giving us his denial was a little unfair to him.
Mr. WARDLE. Well, I did give it to you in writing, and I just read it to complete the record, sir.
Mr. STRICKLAND. Well, thank you for that. Ms. Vosburgh, this may have been discussed when I wasn't here, and if it is, I apologize. But does your hospital believe that it should perform an abortion under any circumstances?
Ms. VOSBURGH. Yes, rape, incest, life of the mother. It is in the policy that they every year rewrite, which lines up with Federal law too, with title X.
Mr. STRICKLAND. I was just unsure because I was not here.
Ms. VOSBURGH. Yes. And while I am on here, I would like to answer Mrs. Capps. She said since we are a hospital, I am on the board-Okay, sorry.
Mr. STRICKLAND. Yes. I am sorry, we only have 5 minutes. I think Ms. Capps may have—I hope the chairman will give us a second round here.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. I am not contemplating doing that. We have another panel to go yet.
Mr. STRICKLAND. Okay. Well, I am
Ms. VOSBURGH. I would have been finished by now anyway. Well, the thing is we are elected
Mr. STRICKLAND. Well, I will respect your right to
Ms. VOSBURGH. Okay. Well, we are elected. We are elected from the community, from our community. We are elected, and we elect people onto the operating board which make that decision, and the community, the body of the community does not want—they do not want abortions there. Abortions to the majority of the community there, it is an abhorrent thing. It is the taking of human life. Very tiny, yes, but it is human life. That is what fetus means, little one. And it is killing them.
Mr. STRICKLAND. Can I interrupt here?
Mr. STRICKLAND. Because are you expressing a religious belief
Ms. VOSBURGH. No.
Mr. STRICKLAND. [continuing] when you say that or are you expressing a scientific belief? And if it is a scientific belief, then it is not a matter of conscience, it is a matter of judgment, it seems to me.
Ms. VOSBURGH. It is a matter of humanity. I mean we need to protect all of us.
Mr. STRICKLAND. I do think the Constitution does grant legitimate exceptions for a lot of things based on religious belief. It troubles me that someone could just—some group of individuals could just decide that this is a moral issue devoid of religious theological context and then claim the kind of protections that I think are only available to those who use a religious test for their particular beliefs.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Without objection, the gentleman is granted an additional minute.
Mr. STRICKLAND. You are very kind.
Mr. STRICKLAND. You are very kind, Mr. Chairman. I will not accept that gracious invitation. Thank you so much.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Mr. Akin, did you have maybe a quick question you might raise to this panel? You are not a member of the committee, but I know the other members would not mind if you raised a particular question. Mr. AKIN. I appreciate the offer.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. All right. Well, we customarily-first of all, thank you. We customarily present questions in writing to the panelists and we will ask you to respond to those in a timely fashion. What is timely? Well, anyhow, 2 or 3 weeks we would hope at the most. So I hope you won't mind receiving those questions and will respond. And we can only thank you. Ms. Weiss came from New York, Mr. Wardle
Ms. CAPPS. Mr. Chairman? Mr. BILIRAKIS. [continuing) from Utah and Ms. Vosburgh from Alaska, so you have come quite a long distance, particularly two of you. Yes, ma'am?
Ms. CAPPS. May I suggest that we offer a second round or request that you consider it?
Mr. BILIRAKIS. I would rather not because we have a second panel who is just sitting here, and it is the prerogative of the Chair, as I understand it, and I hope you don't mind, but I would rather not do that. All right. You are excused. Thank you so very much.
Panel II consists of Ms. Addia—is that correct?
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Addia, yes, I am sorry. Ms. Wuchner, Dr. Renee Jenkins, on behalf of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and Mr. John Heisler who is going to be better introduced by I suppose it is his congressman, Mr. Manzullo who has asked-Mr. Manzullo asked for the right to introduce Mr. Heisler. Please proceed, Don.
Mr. MANZULLO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have to introduce it is my pleasure to introduce my constituent and then I have to run to catch an airplane. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to introduce my constituent, John Heisler. Mr. Heisler is a member of the McHenry County Board. He spent the past several years as the county board's liaison to the Board of Health. Our paths crossed in 1997 when one of the communities in McHenry County,