CAPITOL HILL REPORT
A Victory for Religious Liberty May 10, 2019
Last week, on the National Day of Prayer, President Donald Trump unveiled the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s (HHS) conscience rules. President Trump initiated the creation of this guidance in his May 2017 Executive Order establishing a White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative responsible for providing recommendations to the Administration’s policy agenda pertaining to religious liberty.
The new regulation ensures that healthcare patients and professionals, like nurses, pharmacists, and doctors, are protected from discrimination in their workplace based on the exercise of their religious beliefs or moral convictions. For example, this guidance allows employers or healthcare facilities to decline from participating in abortions, administering birth control, or performing assisted suicide. This last fiscal year HHS’s office of civil rights received 343 complaints. This is a much larger number than ever reported in the Obama administration and shows the need for conscience protections as an increasing number of Americans feel comfortable reporting violations to an Administration that supports religious freedom.
The rule also provides HHS the full force of the law to take action against a conscience rights violation. Some of these tools include the ability to investigate complaints, withhold federal funds, and make referrals to the Department of Justice. Protecting conscience rights is fundamental in guaranteeing the First Amendment. Eagle Forum applauds the Trump administration in implementing these conscience protections and standing up for religious freedom.
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