December 17, 2021
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton this week issued an opinion adopting an analysis by EPPC Senior Fellow Roger Severino regarding the conscience rights of medical students and medical schools who refuse to participate in abortion-related training. Mr. Severino is the director of EPPC’s HHS Accountability Project and served as Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Servicesfrom 2017 to 2021.
Mr. Severino sent a letter on May 20th to Texas legislators addressing federal laws protecting the right of medical schools and medical students to decline to participate in abortion training. He argued that the 1996 federal Coats-Snowe Amendment requires medical schools that voluntarily choose to offer abortion training to make such training entirely optional and non-coercive for pro-life students. Specifically, as part of accreditation, schools cannot place the burden on medical students to opt-out of abortion training; it must be an entirely opt-in regime. This interpretation was affirmed by Attorney General Paxton in Opinion No. KP-0395.
Mr. Severino welcomed the Attorney General Opinion by saying, “For too long, ideologically-driven medical schools and accrediting bodies have tried to bully students into choosing between performing abortions or forfeiting their chance to become doctors. No student who enters medicine to save lives should be pressured to use their talents to take innocent human life. Kudos to Texas for reaffirming that foundational principle of medicine.”