Mr. ROE of Tennessee. I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I thank the gentleman for holding this Special Order tonight.
Mr. Speaker, as a young man, I swore an oath to protect and uphold the Constitution of the United States when I was sworn into the United States military. Literally, millions of young men and women have sworn that oath, shed blood, precious blood, to protect the individual liberties and freedoms that we take for granted in this Nation. And now, no longer, due to the actions of this President, can we take those for granted.
I want to associate my remarks tonight with my colleagues who've so eloquently spoken. Once again, it tells us why government should be out of these individual decisions that we make. We passed almost 2 years ago, and Mr. Lungren remembers this very well, on this House floor we debated this health care bill that now mandates not only what we should buy, an essential benefits package, but what's in it and how it's administered. How ridiculous that is. Individuals have that right and should maintain that right and that freedom to do that.
Our government was established to protect rights of conscience for all Americans, not just some Americans, but all Americans. Neither the HHS nor any other government Department should have the power to force people to violate their conscience. Since 1973, health care and coverage providers--and I am a physician, I am an obstetrician and gynecologist--were granted protections in the law to follow their conscience. This rule that was passed and will be the law of the land cancels those protections.
Cancels those protections.
This HHS rule will force individuals and organizations to violate deeply held moral convictions with no opportunity to opt out, no opportunity to opt out. Protection of the rights of conscience is a fundamental American principle, a fundamental liberty, not a marginal consideration to be subordinated or ignored because of Federal mandates. It's guaranteed in this book right here, the Constitution. The freedom of religion is the first one mentioned in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.
The HHS rule gives people and me, a provider, an impossible choice: either break the law, or violate your beliefs. This rule is causing buyer's remorse in someone who previously supported the health care reform bill.
Former Representative Kathy Dahlkemper recently said: I would never have voted for the final version of the bill if I expected the Obama administration to force Catholic hospitals and Catholic colleges and universities to pay for contraception.
Christians cannot distinguish between purely religious activities and provisions of health care. Because of this rule and because of this President, many may have no choice but to stop providing coverage for their employees. And providers like myself and others with conscience clauses may have to stop providing care.
This is not a choice that any of us should have to make. It's a freedom guaranteed by over 200 years of bloodshed for this Nation.
Mr. Speaker, the American people cannot stand by and let this happen.
I appreciate very much the gentleman holding this Special Order tonight.