EXCLUSIVE: Republicans Push Back On Rule That Fails To ‘Protect Religious Liberty’ Of Anti-Abortion Doctors

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Congressional Republicans, led by Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford, are opposing a proposed rule from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that they argue does not protect the conscience rights of anti-abortion medical providers.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra issued a proposed rule in January to roll back a Trump administration guideline giving medical providers broad protections against orders to participate in abortions, sex-change assignments and other procedures that violate their consciences. Becerra argued the return to Obama-era would “ensur[e] access to care for all in keeping with the law.” Conservatives, however, worry the guidelines do not adequately enforce conscience rules passed by Congress.

Religious diversity adds to the strength of our society and medical field, and no doctor should have to choose between giving up his or her faith or moral convictions and abandoning a vital medical mission,” 26 Republicans wrote in their comment, submitted Monday. “Without sufficient enforcement by HHS, doctors and nurses lack a crucial tool to ensure that the protections that Congress enacted are implemented and enforced.”

Read the comment here:

3.6.23 – MOC 2023 Conscience NPRM Comment With Signatures by Michael Ginsberg on Scribd

Maryland Rep. Andy Harris is the lead co-signer in the House of Representatives.

The Republicans note two cases where individuals who oppose abortion were forced to participate in the procedures. The California Department of Managed Care, which regulates healthcare plans in the state, required all plans available in the state to cover abortion. Despite lawsuits from Catholic- and evangelical-affiliated healthcare providers, the HHS Office of Civil Rights declined to enforce laws such as the Weldon Amendment, which prohibits the federal government from funding healthcare entities that discriminate based on abortion coverage.

In the other case, the University of Vermont Medical Center allegedly required 10 nurses who opposed abortion to participate in the procedure roughly 20 times. The Trump administration filed a lawsuit against the hospital in late 2020, but the Biden administration dropped it in 2021.

Becerra served as California Attorney General from 2017 to 2021. In the position, he argued to the Supreme Court that the Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of nuns, should be required to fill out a waiver form or cover contraception for their employees. (RELATED: Biden HHS Nominee Becerra: ‘I Have Never Sued Any Nuns’)

“People should not have to surrender their faith or conscience at work. In this tough economy, the Biden Administration has deliberately ignored the rights of workers over the desires of employers, even if employers demanded their employees violate their own conscience or faith.  People have the right to live their own values, not the values of Administration officials,”  Lankford said in a statement to the Daily Caller.