The Trump administration finalized another pro-life regulation Monday, this one to clarify that the definition of sex discrimination in Obamacare does not include abortions.
The new rule officially ends a 2016 regulation from the Obama administration that could have forced medical workers to help abort unborn babies. It restores the government’s interpretation of sex discrimination to “the plain meaning … as determined by biology,” according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“HHS respects the dignity of every human being, and as we have shown in our response to the pandemic, we vigorously protect and enforce the civil rights of all to the fullest extent permitted by our laws as passed by Congress,” said Roger Severino, director of the Office for Civil Rights at HHS. “We are unwavering in our commitment to enforcing civil rights in healthcare.”
In 2016, the Obama administration redefined sex discrimination under Obamacare to include “termination of pregnancy.” Federal courts struck down the regulation, but it still was on the books. The Trump administration’s action Monday repeals the unconstitutional regulation.
Pro-life leaders praised President Donald Trump’s continued actions for life.
“President Trump is the most pro-life president our nation has ever seen, and today he delivered another important victory for conscience in America. Abortion is not health care and should never be mandated by the government,” said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “We thank President Trump and Secretary Azar for standing firmly on the side of the majority of Americans who reject taxpayer funding of abortion, and for the action taken today to roll back the Obama/Biden-era assault on conscience.”
Catholic Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, also celebrated the news.
“We thank the Department of Health and Human Services for promulgating regulations restoring the long-standing position of the federal government that discrimination on the basis of ‘sex’ means just that and does not refer to ‘termination of pregnancy’ nor ‘gender identity,’” Naumann said in a statement joined by Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City and Bishop David A. Konderla of Tulsa.
The Catholic leaders said the regulation will restore pro-life health care providers’ rights and protect their religious freedom.
“Catholic health care providers serve everyone who comes to them, regardless of characteristics or background. However, there are ethical considerations when it comes to procedures. We greatly appreciate today’s important action,” the bishops said.
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The new rule strengthens religious freedom. The Heritage Foundation’s senior research fellow Ryan T. Anderson, who submitted comments on the HHS rule, explained previously:
“When Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, it prohibited discrimination on the basis of ‘sex.’ Several years later, the Obama administration redefined ‘sex’ to mean … termination of pregnancy. In addition to being an unlawful abuse of agency power, these rules would have caused serious harm.”
“They would have required doctors, hospitals, and health care organizations to act in ways contrary to their best medical judgments, their consciences, and the physical realities of their patients, or face steep fines and become easy targets for unreasonable and costly lawsuits.”
It is just one of many pro-life actions by the Trump administration. In 2019, it also created a new regulation to enforce conscience protections by punishing medical groups that discriminate against pro-life medical workers. Two federal judges invalidated the rule after pro-abortion groups filed suit, but doctors and medical professionals are fighting back.
Last year, the Trump administration also came to the aid of a Vermont nurse after she said her employer, the University of Vermont Medical Center, tricked her into participating in an abortion against her will by telling her it was a miscarriage.