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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on May 12, 2016.
Conscience Protection Act of 2016
This bill amends the Public Health Service Act to codify the prohibition against the federal government and state and local governments that receive federal financial assistance for health-related activities penalizing or discriminating against a health care provider based on the provider's refusal to be involved in, or provide coverage for, abortion. Health care providers include health care professionals, health care facilities, social services providers, health care professional training programs, and health insurers.
The Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services, in coordination with the Department of Justice (DOJ), must investigate complaints alleging discrimination based on an individual's religious belief, moral conviction, or refusal to be involved in an abortion.
DOJ or any entity adversely affected by such discrimination may obtain equitable or legal relief in a civil action. Administrative remedies do not need to be sought or exhausted prior to commencing an action or granting relief. Such an action may be brought against a governmental entity.