"The final rule fulfills President Trump's promise to promote and protect the fundamental and unalienable rights of conscience and religious liberty, a promise he made when he signed an executive order in May 2017 protecting religious liberty", HHS said in a statement.
The rule makes plain that workers can not be compelled to participate in abortion, sterilization, or assisted suicide procedures, but is vague about other services - such as hormonal and surgical treatments for transgender individuals - that some health professionals may also find objectionable on moral grounds. "I think what the administration is saying is, 'We're going to apply the law, we're going to go by the constitution, and we are going to appropriately protect conscience and religious freedom'".
This final rule revises existing regulations to ensure vigorous enforcement of Federal conscience and anti‐discrimination laws applicable to [HHS], its programs, and recipients of HHS funds, and to delegate overall enforcement and compliance responsibility to [HHS's] Office for Civil Rights ("OCR").
Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, which aims to "promote and protect the rights of all persons in the U.S.", said in a statement that the rule should be "scrapped".
"There are already problematic federal exemptions on the books".
The conscience rule was a priority for religious conservatives who are a key part of Trump's political base, but some critics fear it will become a pretext for denying medical care to LGBT people.
"This administration shows itself to be determined to use religious liberty to harm communities it deems less worthy of equal treatment under the law", Louise Melling, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.
The Trump rule "should not affect healthcare in the state of IL overall, but as a general matter, it's really troubling to see the administration buy into the notion that the rights of the patients shouldn't be put first", Yohnka added. The rule also covers healthcare staff that "assist in the performance" of such services, including schedulers and those who prepare rooms. In response, HHS said an EMT being asked to transport someone to a hospital or clinic for a scheduled abortion could constitute a request to "assist in the performance of" an abortion. A spokesperson for HHS OCR told HealthLeaders that OMB has completed its regulatory review.
National Day of Prayer attendees raise their hands in praise, and to take pictures, during musical selections at the White House Rose Garden on May 2, 2019, in Washington.
"Just today we finalized new protections of conscience rights for physicians, pharmacists, nurses, teachers, students and faith-based charities", Trump said. Those stakeholders have included Planned Parenthood, the Alliance Defending Freedom, Americans United for Life, the New York City mayor's office, the National Catholic Bioethics Center, and the Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law. The rule goes into effect after 242,000 public comments were submitted. "HHS should be in the business of making sure people get the health care they need, not trying to grant health care workers and institutions permission to turn people away".