Joe Biden is preparing to eliminate religious freedom protections put in place by President Donald Trump. He is ordering the elimination of objections healthcare workers are allowed to make based on their conscience and personal beliefs.
In 2018, the Trump Department of Health and Human Services announced the protections for doctors, nurses, medical students and teachers, pharmacists, and religious charities. In 2019, the department’s Office for Civil Rights put in place a rule that protects healthcare workers from being forced to participate in objectionable procedures.
Workers were allowed to object to being personally involved in a number of medical procedures, including abortion, assisted suicide, genital modification, and sterilization. Litigation brought by progressive activists led to the rule being blocked by federal courts.
The Biden administration is now moving to completely scrap the rule. Leftist abortion advocacy groups like Planned Parenthood are supporting the move. The move to end the protections comes partly in response to Republican-led states’ actions to restrict abortions and gender reassignment procedures for children.
Alliance Defending Freedom and other religious freedom advocacy groups are arguing that the prospective rule change will cause direct harm to patients and healthcare professionals around the country.
Senior Counsel Matt Bowman with Alliance Defending Freedom issued a statement saying no American should be compelled to act in violation of their religious and ethical beliefs. He added that those basic freedoms apply to medical professionals. He noted that the proposed rule change will force healthcare workers to choose between acting against their beliefs or losing their jobs. He added that the change is an “illegal and gross overreach of executive power.”
Biden has directed HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra to eliminate the department’s Conscience and Religious Freedom Division. That office was created at the direction of President Trump to actively protect workers with religious objections. Becerra has since eliminated all references to “religion,” “conscience,” and the “Conscience and Religious Freedom Division” from the department’s budget
Becerra has also ordered the dismissal of a case against a facility that compelled a nurse to participate in an abortion despite her stated religious objections.