Trump Issues Final Rules Protecting Religious Groups Like Little Sisters of the Poor From Funding Abortions

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 7, 2018   |   7:24PM   |   Washington, DC

The Trump administration today issued final rules that will protect pro-life and religious groups like Little Sisters of the Poor from being forced to pay for abortions.

The final rules that the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Labor issued Wednesday guarantee protections from the Obama abortion-pill mandate for organizations with pro-life religious or moral convictions. That mandate had forced many employers, regardless of those beliefs, to provide abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy penalties by the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies if the mandate’s requirements weren’t met.

“Freedom is not a gift from government. It is a gift from God,” Trump said in signing the order last year, which was finalized today. “We are here to defend the rights of all Americans.”

A leading pro-life attorney associated with Alliance Defending Freedom told LifeNews that the new rules are good news for its clients and others who have fought attempts by the Obama administration to force Christian groups and businesses to pay for abortion-causing drugs.

Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor said, “The beliefs that inspire Christian colleges and universities, as well as groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor, to serve their communities should be protected. Through these regulations, President Trump kept his promise that people of faith wouldn’t be bullied on his watch.”

Contrary to claims by the Planned Parenthood abortion business, Baylor told LifeNews that non-abortion contraception will remain available.

“At the same time, contraceptives will remain readily available to those who wish to use them. Additionally, we commend the administration for protecting organizations like March for Life, an organization that bases its pro-life beliefs on science and philosophy, and hosts the largest pro-life gathering in the world every year in Washington, D.C. These final rules affirm the principle that all Americans should be free to peacefully live and work according to their faith and conscience without threat of government punishment,” he said.

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The national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) praised the Trump administration for finalizing new regulations that protect both religious and moral objectors from the burdensome Obama-era HHS abortifacient drug mandate. The regulations were proposed last year and finalized today.

“Today President Trump and HHS Secretary Azar delivered a huge victory for conscience rights and religious liberty in America,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “No longer will Catholic nuns who care for the elderly poor be forced by the government to provide abortion-inducing drugs in their health care plans. Not only that, moral objectors such as Susan B. Anthony List will also no longer have to pay for life-ending drugs that are antithetical to their mission and for which we have argued there is certainly no ‘compelling state interest.’”

She told LifeNews, “The Obama administration’s repeated violations of conscience were deeply contrary to the core of our nation, which was built on the foundation of respect for the individual freedoms of the people and deeply held religious beliefs. We thank President Trump for fulfilling a core promise to voters of faith and conscience who elected him and thank Secretary Azar for implementing these important regulations.”

The order indicates the Trump administration will “provide regulatory relief for religious objectors to Obamacare’s burdensome preventive services mandate, a position supported by the Supreme Court decision in Hobby Lobby.”

Pro-abortion President Barack Obama’s administration granted exceptions to the Affordable Care Act HHS mandate to giant corporations like Pepsi, Visa and Chevron, but refused to give any to religious groups like the Little Sisters or Hobby Lobby, which is owned by a Christian family. Instead, it forced them to challenge the mandate at the U.S. Supreme Court.