According to pro-life group the Susan B. Anthony List, “In 2016 the Obama administration issued a regulation designed to reinterpret civil rights law in a way that could force insurance providers, hospitals, doctors and nurses to participate in abortions against their will.” The Trump administration is seeking to undo this regulation and replace it with one that will allow for conscience protections for health care workers who do not wish to participate in abortion.
The deadline to submit comments either for or against the HHS rule is this coming Tuesday, August 13.
Several U.S. Senators have submitted a letter to HHS in support of the new conscience protection rule.
A document from SBA List outlines how the Obama administration chose to interpret Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, and why the rule must be undone:
Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) prohibits a health program that receives federal funding or a program administered under Title I of the ACA from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. It prohibits this discrimination by reference to longstanding civil rights laws. The Prohibition against discrimination based on sex is established through reference to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX)….
May 18, 2016: HHS under the Obama Administration finalized its proposed regulations for Section 1557. This regulation (45 CFR § 92.4) defined discrimination “on the basis of sex:”
On the basis of sex includes, but is not limited to, discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery therefrom, childbirth or related medical conditions, sex stereotyping, and gender identity
Although this definition was established through reference to Title IX, it was inconsistent with the Danforth Amendment within Title IX. The Danforth Amendment states, “Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to require or prohibit any person, or public or private entity, to provide or pay for any benefit or service, including the use of facilities, related to an abortion.”
SBA List notes that the Trump administration’s regulation change is necessary to protect conscience rights, writing that the administration’s proposed rule “adds the abortion exemption language… that no recipient of federal funding will be forced to pay for or perform an abortion… [and] that no entity shall be required or prohibited from providing or paying for a service related to an abortion” as is consistent with the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and other laws.
Editor’s Note, 8/16: Added link to U.S. Senators’ letter to HHS.