A new rule currently under review by the White House says the U.S. Department Of Health and Human Services (HHS) office will have the power to protect health professionals who feel uncomfortable performing abortions or providing treatments for transgender individuals for religious or moral reasons.
The new measure — “Ensuring Compliance with Certain Statutory Provisions in Health Care; Delegations of Authority” — would also inflict penalties on organizations that force their employees to perform said practices, regardless of their personal convictions, Politico reports.
“To be forced under pain of losing one’s job is just outrageous,” said Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus co-chairman, Rep. Chris Smith, according to Politico.
President Trump is “now looking to remedy that through the HHS mechanism — hasn’t happened yet, but it will,” the New Jersey Republican added.
Head of the HHS’s civil rights office, Roger Severino, has also indicated that ensuring health care workers don’t have to provide services they are vehemently against is high on his priority list. “Many involved in providing medical care and those enrolled in health insurance plans have serious objections to participating in or paying for sex-reassignment surgeries or gender transitions,” Severino wrote in a 2016 Heritage Foundation report. Refusal of services should be made “on the basis of religious teachings, moral reasoning, scientific evidence, and medical experience,” he added.
The new measure comes after former President Barack Obama’s administration repealed legislation that protected health care workers who objected to performing certain medical services for moral or religious reasons. Supporters of the repeal argue the former protections were too broad and presented an opportunity for workers to refuse providing birth control or treatments for HIV, while opponents of the regulations repeal say that Obama’s move left workers who object to providing certain services vulnerable of being fired.
The Trump administration’s consideration of the measure arrives in timely concurrence with the March For Life in Washington, D.C., on Friday.
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