Today, on the National Day of Prayer, President Donald trump issued new rules that further protect doctors, nurses and medical professionals who don’t want to be forced to do abortions or refer for them. Trump announced new regulations through the Department of Health and Human Services that will more effectively enforce existing federal laws that protect the conscience rights of healthcare providers.
Despite current law that has protected conscience rights for over 30 years, the lack of regulations resulted in confusion and a lack of awareness within the healthcare community, leaving healthcare personnel vulnerable to discrimination and forcing them to drop their specialties at a time of healthcare scarcity.
The 440 pages of new regulations, issued by HHS Secretary Alex Azar, provide regulatory backbone to the First Amendment conscience rights of Americans working in the medical profession and will help ensure that no doctor or nurse will be be forced to violate their conscience while serving patients.
Although the Constitution and numerous federal laws provide robust protections for the conscience rights of medical professionals, these laws are being violated as doctors, nurses, and medical students are being compelled to participate in abortion. The regulations clarify what recourse is available to victims of discrimination under the law and what penalties the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Civil Rights may enforce for violations.
“This rule ensures that healthcare entities and professionals won’t be bullied out of the health care field because they decline to participate in actions that violate their conscience, including the taking of human life,” a statement from OCR Director Roger Severino said. “Protecting conscience and religious freedom not only fosters greater diversity in health care, it’s the law.
“Laws prohibiting government funded discrimination against conscience and religious freedom will be enforced like every other civil rights law,” Severino explained.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins applauded the new regulations in comments to LifeNews.com.
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“On this National Day of Prayer, many healthcare providers have an answer to their prayers. President Trump announced today new regulations that will enforce over two-dozen federal laws so that healthcare professionals won’t be forced to choose between their moral beliefs and their desire to help patients,” he said.
“President Trump’s efforts reflect a long history in American constitutional law about the morality of conscience rights. Unfortunately, the previous administration had little concern for protecting the conscience rights of doctors, nurses, and residents,” Perkins added. “Protecting the right of all healthcare providers to make professional judgments based on moral convictions and ethical standards is foundational to federal law and is necessary to ensure that access to healthcare is not diminished, which would occur if they were forced out of their jobs because of their ethical stances.”
Ashley McGuire, Senior Fellow at The Catholic Association, also praised the rules.
“No healthcare worker should ever be forced to choose between their practice or their faith. That principle is enshrined in countless laws and regulations but has been violated for far too long. Today’s regulation restates our nation’s commitment to conscience rights in the healthcare industry,” she told LifeNews.
Other leading pro-life groups also praised the rule:
National Right to Life President Carol Tobias told LifeNews: “There are many statutes that would protect the conscience rights of health care workers, such as the Weldon amendment. Unfortunately, the previous administration refused to enforce them and looked the other way when violated. We thank President Trump and his administration for enforcing these laws and protecting health care workers who object to participating in the taking of innocent human life. We applaud the president for following through on another promise.”
Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser added:
“Today President Trump and HHS Secretary Azar delivered an important victory for conscience rights, fulfilling a key promise to pro-life voters,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “Last year the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division of the Office of Civil Rights was established at HHS to investigate and address conscience violations – an essential step to protect pro-life doctors and nurses like Cathy DeCarlo, who was forced to assist in a late-term abortion or lose her job. These new regulations go even further to put teeth back in the law after years of nonenforcement by the Obama administration. Abortion is not health care and no health care professional should ever be forced to participate in the destruction of human life.
“As some states attempt to expand abortion on demand through birth, with no conscience protections whatsoever, these regulations underscore the Trump administration’s seriousness about standing up for pro-life health care workers and institutions. We thank President Trump and Secretary Azar for their commitment to fighting discrimination. We also continue to urge Congress to enact a private right of action so victims can seek relief in court in the future, no matter who holds power in Washington.”
And Jeanne Mancini, President of March for Life commented:
“Those who serve our nation’s sick in the health care industry, or who are training to do so, should not be forced to violate their conscience in the process. The new Health and Human Services rule will ensure that the rights of medical professionals, guaranteed by the United States Constitution as well as Federal law, will be respected. No one should be forced to participate in life-ending procedures like abortion or similar activities that go against their religious beliefs or moral convictions.