A leaked draft copy of a rule from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), if implemented by the Trump administration, would ensure employers who object to providing contraception, abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization procedures through health insurance plans are able to maintain the freedom to follow their beliefs.
Such a rule would protect groups such as the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious charities from the contraception mandate that was inserted into Obamacare by former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and bureaucrats in her department.
Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards has touted the fact that, with Obamacare and the HHS mandate, 55 million women in the United States are receiving free birth control.
The new regulation is reportedly under review by the Trump HHS, under the direction of Secretary Tom Price. While the rule would exempt religious groups from having to provide services and drugs that are in conflict with their religious beliefs, it would still leave in place the Obama administration’s “accommodation” for any group that wishes to use it.
In May of 2016, the Supreme Court unanimously decided to send back to the lower courts the case of the Little Sisters, in effect ordering the government not to fine the Sisters for noncompliance with the HHS mandate and for not informing the government that the mandate is in conflict with their beliefs.
In early May, Trump invited the Little Sisters on stage with him at the National Day of Prayer event at the White House.
“I want you to know that your long ordeal will soon be over,” Trump promised the Sisters.
The Obama administration demonstrated marked inconsistency with regard to exemptions from the HHS mandate. While it fiercely fought against an exemption for religious charities such as the Little Sisters, the former administration exempted health insurance plans for big corporations – such as Chevron, Exxon, Visa, and Pepsi Bottling – from the mandate.
Similarly, New York City, and other large cities were given exemptions from the HHS mandate, as was the U.S. military.
“At long last the United States government acknowledges that people can get contraceptives without forcing nuns to provide them,” said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel with Becket. “That is sensible, fair, and in keeping with the Supreme Court’s order and the President’s promise to the Little Sisters and other religious groups serving the poor.”
“As many Americans of faith have experienced, the extent of the Obama administration’s hostility toward their beliefs was astounding,” Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said in a statement about the leaked draft.
From President Obama’s dismissal of people of faith as Americans “clinging” to their religion, to threatening millions in crushing fines against charities like the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Obama administration made clear they believed people of faith had no place in the public square and that religious beliefs or moral convictions were irrelevant to the health care they provide.
Similarly, Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, said the leaked draft of the new HHS rule “signals hope for the full reinstatement of our right to conscience protection.”
“Having gone to court over this issue ourselves, the March for Life knows firsthand how oppressive the Obama-era mandate is, forcing groups like ours and religious orders like Little Sisters of the Poor to cover conscience-violating drugs,” Mancini continued. “We thank both HHS Secretary Tom Price and President Donald Trump for continuing to prioritize the protection of conscience for every American, and look forward to this administration fulfilling one if its most central and integral promises.”