SBA List Responds to Coakley Comments that Catholic Medical Providers Should Avoid ER Work

Washington – In response to Democratic Senate Candidate Martha Coakley’s remarks that Roman Catholics should avoid serving in our nation’s emergency rooms, Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser offered the following statement:

    Martha Coakley’s lack of respect for the Constitutional rights for people of faith is appalling. I’ve got news for Coakley: the right of conscience extends to Catholics, whether she agrees with it or not. Freedom of Conscience is not exclusive to certain demographics – it extends to all regardless of faith.

    Even more offensive is Coakley’s suggestion that people of faith avoid the medical profession. In a time where our nation faces critical shortages of doctors, nurses, and medical support staff, the last thing we need is an effort to drive principled citizens away from our hospitals and medical clinics.

    In Massachusetts and across the country Catholic medical providers extend the lion’s share of treatment for our friends and neighbors. Coakley’s calls to marginalize and undermine their contributions are outrageous, especially in light of the national focus on health care reform.

    Coakley assumes that women have an ultimate ‘need’ for an abortion, even when their life is not at risk. The majority of Americans reject the idea that the so-called ‘need’ for abortion is so acute that it should force religious medical providers out of the profession.

    Over the past week, the Susan B. Anthony List has mobilized women across the country to communicate the reality – that abortion is not health care. We travelled across the country, meeting countless women who countered the feminist mantra that our nation ‘needs’ abortion in health care reform.

    The truth is, abortion is not health care. Americans should not be forced to fund it, and medical providers of faith should not be forced to participate in it. The people of Massachusetts deserve a Senator who affirms Constitutional rights for all, not one who puts a radical ideology above the right of conscience.

On January 14, 2010, Martha Coakley was interviewed on WBSM AM 1420 by Ken Pittman. During the interview, Pittman asked Coakley about conscience protections for medical providers. An excerpt of the exchange is below (Transcript and audio are both available from the Ken Pittman Show):

Ken Pittman: Right, if you are a Catholic, and believe what the Pope teaches that any form of birth control is a sin. ah you don’t want to do that.

Martha Coakley: No we have a separation of church and state Ken, let’s be clear.

Ken Pittman: In the emergency room you still have your religious freedom.

Martha Coakley: (……uh, eh…um..) The law says that people are allowed to have that. You can have religious freedom but you probably shouldn’t work in the emergency room.

January 11-13, 2009, the Susan B. Anthony List hosted Women Speak Out: Abortion is NOT Health Care, a nine-city Midwestern press tour. The tour, lead by Marilyn Musgrave, involved local pro-life women who urged key Democratic Members of Congress to oppose any health care reform bill that funds abortion.

The Susan B. Anthony List is a nationwide network of Americans, over 280,000 residing in all 50 states, dedicated to mobilizing, advancing, and representing pro-life women in politics. Its connected Candidate Fund increases the percentage of pro-life women in the political process.


CONTACT: Joy Yearout (703) 380-6674 or jyearout [at]  

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