WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - A new rule by the Trump administration reverses an Obama-era regulation that treated abortion as a human right.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finalized the pro-life regulation on Monday, to clarify the definition of sex-discrimination in The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). From now on it does not include abortion.
The new rule officially ends the 2016 regulation that the Obama administration slipped in before Obama's second term was up. Under the old rule, abortion was placed under the protection of anti-discrimination prohibitions in Obamacare.
Federal courts had struck down Obama's sex-discrimination regulation as unconstitutional, but it was still lingering on the books. President Trump's HHS acted Monday to officially repeal that regulation.
According to HHS, the new Trump rule restores the government's interpretation of sex discrimination to "the plain meaning ... as determined by biology."
The Heritage Foundation's senior research fellow Ryan T. Anderson explained the new rule clarifies contradictions placed by the previous administration and strengthens religious freedom.
"When Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, it prohibited discrimination on the basis of 'sex.' Several years later, the Obama administration redefined 'sex' to mean ... termination of pregnancy," explained Anderson. "In addition to being an unlawful abuse of agency power, these rules would have caused serious harm."
This "serious harm," Anderson mentions, is extended to both patient(s) and provider. Experts say the old rule could have forced medical workers to assist in aborting preborn babies.
"They would have required doctors, hospitals and health care organizations to act in ways contrary to their best medical judgments, their consciences and the physical realities of their patients, or face steep fines and become easy targets for unreasonable and costly lawsuits," he said.
President of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, Marjorie Dannenfelser, is celebrating the new move as a victory for freedom of conscience.
"We thank President Trump and Secretary [Alex] Azar for standing firmly on the side of the majority of Americans who reject taxpayer funding of abortion," affirmed Dannenfelser, "and for the action taken today to roll back the Obama/Biden-era assault on conscience."
"President Trump is the most pro-life president our nation has ever seen," she proclaimed, "and today he delivered another important victory for conscience in America. Abortion is not health care and should never be mandated by the government."
Catholic leaders affirmed the new regulation will restore pro-life health care providers' rights and protect their religious freedom.
Archbishop Joseph Naumann, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, also rejoiced in the news. In a joint statement with Abp. Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City and Bp. David Konderla of Tulsa, Naumann said:
We thank the Department of Health and Human Services for promulgating regulations restoring the long-standing position of the federal government that discrimination on the basis of "sex" means just that and does not refer to "termination of pregnancy" nor "gender identity." Catholic health care providers serve everyone who comes to them, regardless of characteristics or background. However, there are ethical considerations when it comes to procedures. We greatly appreciate today's important action.
HHS Civil Rights Director Roger Severino put out a statement following the new regulation.
"HHS respects the dignity of every human being, and as we have shown in our response to the pandemic, we vigorously protect and enforce the civil rights of all to the fullest extent permitted by our laws as passed by Congress," stated Severino, "We are unwavering in our commitment to enforcing civil rights in health care."