ABC News reports:
The Trump administration announced on Thursday a new division within the Department of Health and Human Services devoted to “conscience and religious freedom.” Social conservatives and religious liberty leaders have anticipated conscience and religious freedom protections to come out of HHS, and the work of the new division, which will fall under the purview of the Office of Civil Rights, will likely pave the way for health care workers to refuse specific types of care, like birth control or abortion, based on their religious or conscience objections. Critics say the move could hurt civil rights protections for lesbian, gay and transgender people, and hurt patient care.
From the HHS site:
OCR Director [Roger] Severino said, “Laws protecting religious freedom and conscience rights are just empty words on paper if they aren’t enforced. No one should be forced to choose between helping sick people and living by one’s deepest moral or religious convictions, and the new division will help guarantee that victims of unlawful discrimination find justice. For too long, governments big and small have treated conscience claims with hostility instead of protection, but change is coming and it begins here and now.”
Acting HHS Secretary Hargan said, “President Trump promised the American people that his administration would vigorously uphold the rights of conscience and religious freedom. That promise is being kept today. The Founding Fathers knew that a nation that respects conscience rights is more diverse and more free, and OCR’s new division will help make that vision a reality.”
The new HHS division provides a complaint page if health care providers feel they’ve been forced to betray Jesus by providing care to somebody they hate.
Liberty Counsel celebrates:
“The establishment of a Conscience and Religious Freedom Division by the Department of Health and Human Services within its Office for Civil Rights is an historic and positive step by the Trump administration to protect religious freedom and the rights of conscience. The Department of Health and Human Services under the Obama administration was hostile to conscience and religious freedom rights. Today’s announcement is refreshing and exciting.
“Religious freedom is our first freedom and I welcome the news that HHS is committed to protecting our precious freedom. The Trump administration is to be commended for making this 180-degree turn from the past administration which used the federal government to violate religious freedom and conscience rather than protecting them. This move sends a strong message that there must be a commitment to protecting religious freedom.”