The following comes from a January 5 Catholic News Agency article:

On the cusp of 2016, the president of the U.S. Bishops Conference is calling for greater protection of pro-life professionals and organizations in the year ahead.

Archbishop Kurtz, who heads the Archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky, lamented the absence of the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA) in Congress’ 2016 omnibus funding bill. He warned that the failure to include robust conscience protections against participation in abortion is a cause for grave concern.

The Abortion Non-Discrimination Act had been included in the House of Representatives’ draft Labor / Department of Health and Human Services appropriations bills since 2013, but was never enacted. Its provisions would strengthen protections provided by the Weldon Amendment and the Church Amendments.

The Weldon Amendment has been included in HHS appropriations bills since 2005. It bars U.S. states that accept federal funds from discriminating against institutions and health care entities that do not provide coverage of abortion or refer for abortions. The Church Amendments, first passed in the 1970s, bar individuals and entities from being required to violate their religious beliefs or moral convictions against abortion as part of a government program.

In an October 25 primer, the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities analyzed the proposed Abortion Non-Discrimination Act.

The primer points to several cases of coercion. Cathy DeCarlo, a nurse at a New York hospital, who was forced by her superiors to dismember a 22-week-old unborn child in 2009. Vanderbilt University has told nurses that they must assist in abortions despite their objections. In California in 2014, the state’s department of managed health care told Catholic and other organizations they must include unlimited elective abortion coverage in employee health plans.