President Trump Issues New Rule to Protect Conscience Rights of People Who Oppose Abortion

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   May 24, 2019   |   3:19PM   |   Washington, DC

Pro-life groups praised the Trump administration on Friday for proposing changes to an old Obama-era rule that threatened the conscience rights of people who oppose abortions.

The new rule applies to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. It clarifies that the federal definition of sex discrimination does not include abortion and makes sure the health care law complies with conscience protection laws.

Under the Obama administration in 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a rule that defined sex discrimination to include a “termination of pregnancy,” or abortion, according to the department.

The change jeopardized conscience protections for medical workers and others who oppose the killing of unborn babies. Later that year, a federal court in Texas blocked the rule from being enforced, saying it likely was unlawful.

Fox News reports: “In the Texas case, a Catholic hospital system, several states and a Christian medical association argued that the rule went beyond the law as written and would coerce providers to act against their medical judgment and religious beliefs.”

Now, the Trump administration wants to end the Obama-era rule completely.

“When Congress prohibited sex discrimination, it did so according to the plain meaning of the term, and we are making our regulations conform,” HHS Office for Civil Rights Director Roger Severino said Friday in a statement. “The American people want vigorous protection of civil rights and faithfulness to the text of the laws passed by their representatives.”

Severino said the proposed rule would accomplish both goals. Before it can be enacted, it must go through a 60-day comment period and final review.

Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said the Trump administration changes are extremely important as states like New York and Vermont pass laws expanding abortion on demand through birth.

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“… under the previous administration, federal law was reinterpreted to define abortion as a civil right,” Dannenfelser explained. “President Trump pledged to change that and, true to his word, his administration is working hard to protect pro-life institutions and health care workers like Cathy DeCarlo who entered the profession to save lives, but have been forced to participate in abortion or lose their jobs.”

She praised Trump and HHS Secretary Alex Azar for their strong leadership in fighting for conscience protections. Dannenfelser urged Congress to enact better conscience protections as well.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said the old rule is an “Obama era injustice.” If it had been allowed to take effect, it would have forced federally funded health care providers to offer abortions, he said.

“The rule proposed today helps protect health care providers from being forced to participate in and perform services that substantially violate their consciences. Family Research Council fully supports these revisions to ensure Obamacare isn’t used as a vehicle to advance … abortion politics,” Perkins said.

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, also thanked the administration, saying it will help mothers and babies as well.

“Pregnancy is not a disease cured by abortion,” she said. “A bias in favor of abortion should not be our policy, as pregnant and parenting women deserve support and assistance, rather than pressure to end a child’s life.”