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Trump Administration Guarantees Conscience Protections for Doctors Who Won’t Perform Abortions

(Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

The Trump administration on Thursday adopted protections for medical professionals who have moral objections to performing certain controversial procedures.

The new rule, instituted by the Department of Health and Human Services, will prohibit regulations designed to punish doctors who decline to perform abortions, assisted suicides, and sterilizations, among other procedures. The rule requires that clinics and research institutions receiving federal funding from programs including Medicare and Medicaid “submit written assurances and certifications of compliance” with federal laws safeguarding conscience and religious rights.

“Just today we finalized new protections of conscience rights for physicians, pharmacists, nurses, teachers, students, and faith-based charities,” Trump said in the White House Rose Garden during a statement honoring the National Day of Prayer. “They’ve been wanting to do that for a long time.”

The rule will be enforced by the Office of Civil Rights and will take effect in 60 days.

“Laws prohibiting government funded discrimination against conscience and religious freedom will be enforced like every other civil rights law,” OCR Director Roger Severino said in a statement. “This rule ensures that healthcare entities and professionals won’t be bullied out of the health care field because they decline to participate in actions that violate their conscience, including the taking of human life.”

Pro-life and religious-liberty groups issued statements of support for the rule.

“Those who serve our nation’s sick in the health care industry, or who are training to do so, should not be forced to violate their conscience in the process,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life. “No one should be forced to participate in life-ending procedures like abortion or similar activities that go against their religious beliefs or moral convictions.”

Ashley McGuire, a senior fellow at the Catholic Association, agreed that “no health-care worker should ever be forced to choose between their practice or their faith.”

“That principle is enshrined in countless laws and regulations but has been violated for far too long. Today’s regulation restates our nation’s commitment to conscience rights in the health-care industry,” McGuire said.

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