Rep. Fleming: Obama’s Assault on Religious Freedom ‘Unprecedented’

Wednesday, 06 Mar 2013 12:58 PM

By Kathleen Walter and Cyrus Afzali

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President Barack Obama is undertaking an unprecedented assault on religious freedom, Republican congressman John Fleming has charged during an exclusive interview with Newsmax.

Fleming, one of a group of GOP representatives who has introduced legislation to prevent the contraceptive mandate in Obamacare said doctors and nurses must be protected from pressure to perform abortions.

Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana, is promoting new legislation called the Health Care Conscience Rights Act that would exempt individuals and businesses from certain abortion and birth control-related requirements in the Affordable Care Act.

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Along with fellow Republicans, Diane Black, of Tennessee and Jeff Fortenberry, of Nebraska, Fleming introduced three different pieces of legislation that not only deal with birth control, but abortifacients, or pills that can cause abortions. Finally, it accommodates the conscientious objections of businesses and individuals that do not want to cover contraception or beinvolved with abortions.

“Health care providers, such as nurses and doctors should be protected from being forced in some way to participate or even commit abortions,” the Louisiana congressman told Newsmax TV.

Fleming believes the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandates are essentially an assault on religious freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.

“The First Amendment provides for freedom of speech but also freedom of religion, which in more modern terms would be conscience. Our founding fathers said that we should be free to not have government dictate to us how we should practice religion and express our religion,” he said. “Unfortunately, under recent laws, particularly the Affordable Care Act, those rights are being infringed.”

In return for supporting passage of Obamacare, Fleming said the president promised many in the House and Senate that he would protect the Hyde-Weldon Amendment, legislation passed in 2004 that provided broad protections for health-care providers and insurers who object to abortions. Fleming said Obama has now backed away from those promises.

“He’s actually turned away from that promise and commitment and is moving forward with his liberal agenda, so it’s the biggest attack on religious freedom that I can recall in my lifetime,” Fleming said. “As far as what we can do about it, a lot of this is working its way through the courts and whenever there’s been a decision, we’ve won more cases than we’ve lost. But ultimately we need to create a firewall of protection that will require some sort of permanent legislation.”

Turning to budget cuts, Fleming said he and other Republicans want the Democrats to abide by an agreement that makes permanent the discretionary spending levels contained in the sequester. Coupled with a reprioritization of spending impacting the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs, he believes there is a framework for a continuing budget resolution that would avoid a government shutdown.

He said the Defense Department should not bear additional cuts given defense spending increases underway in China, Russia and other nations.

“Defense was cut by $500 billion back in 2011, so we already streamlined defense, working it down to the most efficient level that we could possibly do and on top of this, we’re seeing another cut of $500 billion,” Fleming said. “Where that’s going to impact us is in trading and readiness, so I say we’re going to see the military and our ability to defend ourselves and project power around the world progressively degrade if we don’t fix this.”

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