Proposed Rule Changes Would Roll Back Obama-Era Protections for Abortion Providers

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today released the following statement in response to the announcement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that it would be lifting Obama-era rules protecting abortion providers.

“These two announcements mark a major effort by the Department of Health and Human Services to protect the sanctity of life and the religious conscience rights of all Americans,” Wicker said. “Today, as thousands marched through the streets of Washington in support of the unborn, the Trump administration has demonstrated its support for this powerful movement. The proposed rule changes would safeguard the rights of states to withhold taxpayer funds from abortion providers and permit individual health-care professionals to abstain from activities that would violate their religious convictions.”

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services rescinded 2016 guidance that has curtailed states’ long-standing authority to set standards for which providers can participate in Medicaid programs. The rule prevented states from taking certain actions against family planning providers that offer abortion services.

Additionally, the Office for Civil Rights is planning to enforce 25 existing statutory civil rights protections for Americans involved in HHS-funded programs. The laws exempt providers from having to participate in activities that violate their consciences, including but not limited to abortion.

Today’s announcement follows yesterday’s formation of a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division at HHS. The new division will provide HHS with the focus it needs enforce existing laws protecting the rights of conscience and religious freedom more vigorously and effectively.

Senator Roger Wicker Press Release