The House of Representatives voted to pass a bill Wednesday evening that would protect healthcare providers if they choose to opt out of performing or offering abortion services.
The House of Representatives passed the bill in a 245-182 vote that protects healthcare providers from being discriminated against by the government if they refuse to participate in abortion services, reports CNSNews. Representative Diane Black from Tennessee sponsored the bill.
“Congress must step in to clarify and strengthen our laws so that the conscience rights of every American are protected, because … if we lose the right to live according to our own convictions, particularly on a matter as deeply affecting as abortion, we don’t have much left do we?” Black said on the House floor.
The bill states that the federal government, as well as state and local governments that get federal funding cannot “penalize” or discriminate against healthcare providers that do not offer, perform, refer or pay for abortion services.
The bill also offers legal protection for those who believe that the government is discriminating against them. The bill allows healthcare providers to bring up a civil action.
“In an action under this section, the court shall grant all necessary equitable and legal relief, including, where appropriate, declaratory relief and 19 compensatory damages, to prevent the occurrence, continuance, or repetition of the designated violation and to compensate for losses resulting from the designated violation,” the bill reads.
House Speaker Paul Ryan also defended the bill, saying that no American should have to go against their beliefs.
“No one should be forced to violate their conscience–least of all by the federal government. That’s all this bill says. The federal government–or anyone who receives taxpayer dollars–cannot discriminate against health care providers who do not perform abortions,” Ryan said.
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