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Since the Supreme Court ruled for the plaintiffs in Roe v. Wade, both federal and state governments have introduced a series of laws protecting religious individuals from having to participate in abortion if it violates their consciences.

Federal laws such as the Hyde Amendment have traditionally been put in place in order to allow people with religious objections to opt out of practices they believe to be immoral. State laws modeled on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) give citizens the grounds to challenge laws that might infringe upon their exercise of religion, including in the realm of conscience violations. Meanwhile, there are three federal laws designed specifically to give conscience protections to members of the health-care industry: the Church Amendment, the Weldon Amendment, and the Coats-Snowe Amendment.

Some states, however, have gone the other way, and crafted legislation that circumscribes the conscience protections theoretically offered at both the federal and state level. And because the Obama administration has refused to enforce the Weldon Amendment against states such as California, these state laws have placed an undue burden on health-care professionals who have religious objections to abortion.

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