Trump protects conscience decisions by health care providers


President Trump listens as recovering opioid addict Ashley Evans addresses a National Day of Prayer event in the White House Rose Garden on May 2, 2019, in Washington.

According to CBS News, the President and Melania Trump hosted the service in the White House Rose Garden where the president asked for prayer for Venezuela and called for the protection of religious freedom amid the recent string of attacks on houses of worship across the United States and all over the world. "They've been wanting to do that for a long time".

Groups concerned about religious liberty welcomed the rule, while LGBT groups criticized it.

For more than 40 years, federal law has protected conscience rights of Americans in the context of health care. Pelosi said the Democratic-controlled House would "fight" the administration's actions.

"The new rule requires cities like San Francisco - in all circumstances - to prioritize a staff person's religious beliefs over the health and lives of patients", the city attorney's press release contends.

"The Department anticipates that this final rule will result in greater public familiarity with Federal conscience and anti‐discrimination laws, and may inform both State and local governments and health care institutions of their obligations, and individual and institutional health care entities of their rights, under those laws".

The final rule, issued Thursday by the HHS, explicitly mentions abortion, sterilization, assisted suicide and advance directives as issues, saying that individuals and entities would be allowed to refrain from having to provide, participate in, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for, such services. The ultimate penalty can be loss of federal funding for violations of conscience or religious rights, but most cases are settled by making changes in practices and procedures.

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Others disagreed. "Unfortunately, ADF clients and other nurses, doctors, and health care providers have faced discrimination and even have lost their jobs because of their commitment to saving life", Kellie Fiedorek, legal counsel at the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a pro-religious rights organization, said in a statement.

The conscience rule is a priority for religious conservatives.

"When asked what patients without many health care options were supposed to do if their hospital or health care provider refused to perform the procedures they were seeking, Severino repeatedly avoided the question, instead saying that the U.S. had many health care options", Buzzfeed adds.

This will make it "so that people do not have to shed their religious beliefs to participate in health care", said Severino, adding that "certain medical professions such as OB-GYN should not be declared pro-life-free zones".

The rule, proposed more than a year ago, reinforces a set of 25 laws passed by Congress that protect "conscience rights" in healthcare, HHS said. "The administration's decision puts LGBTQ people at greater risk of being denied necessary and appropriate health care exclusively based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. This final rule ignores the needs of the patients and individuals served by HHS' programs and will create significant confusion about the rights and responsibilities of health care providers and entities".

Trump used the occasion to highlight new and old efforts he said he has pursued to enhance religious liberty for Americans.

The enforcement of those new laws will fall to HHS' Office of Civil Rights.