Bowing to pressure from pro-abortion groups, the Biden administration is ending the Trump administration’s religious conscience rule over the abortion issue. The rule, which had been heralded by religious liberty advocates and was a signature policy of the Trump administration, allowed healthcare workers to object to performing services that contradicted their religious or moral beliefs, such as abortions or gender transitions.
Now, those in the healthcare professions could be forced to assist in abortions and gender surgery for children.
As reported by Politico on Tuesday, the Department of Health and Human Services is “in the rulemaking process” and could make the change by the end of April. The rescission is under review at the Office of Management and Budget, which supervises federal agencies and administers the federal budget.
Former President Donald Trump first announced the rule in 2018 which exempted healthcare workers from providing medical services that ran counter to their religious beliefs, such as abortion, contraception, vasectomies, gender transition procedures, or services relating to HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. It was opposed from the beginning by Democrats and pro-abortion advocates, including Planned Parenthood.
The rule was eventually struck down in November 2019 by U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer in New York. The Obama appointee sided with the nearly two dozen mostly Democratic states, municipalities, and health advocacy groups in his ruling that the Trump administration lacked statutory authority to issue the rule. In his decision, Engelmayer said that it violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act.
Surprisingly, the American Civil Liberties Union sided with the Trump administration at the time.
“Everyone is entitled to their religious beliefs, but religious beliefs do not include a license to discriminate, to deny essential care, or to cause harm to others,” the American Civil Liberties Union said when Engelmayer struck down the rule.
Christian medical leaders raised alarm about the new mandate from the Biden administration that could shut down Christian health care throughout the U.S.
Responding to the news, pro-life leaders criticized the Biden administration for wanting to force hardworking Americans to choose between exercising their beliefs and being able to feed their families.
“Doctors, nurses, and other medical providers should enjoy this same constitutional protection, free to live and work in a manner consistent with their faith,” Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Matt Bowman said in a statement. “Yet the Biden administration’s proposed rule would abandon health care professionals to being forced to perform medical procedures that directly violate their religious beliefs or risk losing their jobs.”
The move by HHS to rescind the rule reflects the Biden administration’s pledge to undo Trump administration directives that liberals viewed as civil rights violations and government-approved refusal of medically necessary care.