Biden administration plans to rescind Trump-era ‘conscience rule’ for healthcare workers 

The Biden administration is putting forth plans to ditch a Trump-era rule that lets medical workers refuse to provide certain services that they believe conflict with either their religious or moral beliefs, according to three sources familiar with the administration’s discussions.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services later confirmed that the policy change is underway. “HHS has made clear through the unified regulatory agenda that we are in the rulemaking process,” the spokesperson said.

The HHS could potentially make the proposition at the end of this month, which comes as many Republican-led states are looking to limit access to abortions and transgender procedures. As a result, progressive advocacy groups are encouraging the federal government to go farther to protect the rights of patients to receive such services. 

“As state politicians continue to strip people of their sexual and reproductive rights and freedoms, it’s imperative that the Biden-Harris administration revoke this discriminatory policy and help ensure people can access the health care information they need when they need it,” commented Jacqueline Ayers, who serves as the senior vice president of policy, organizing, and campaigns for Planned Parenthood.

The group was part of a 2019 lawsuit against the Trump administration rule. “We look forward to seeing the details of the new rule and are excited about this step forward.”

The old rule was called the conscience rule, and it was unveiled in 2018 and finalized in 2019. It was blocked by federal courts following tens of states, cities, and advocacy groups filing suit. Because of those actions, it has never been implemented. 

Several progressive groups that have called for a change in that rule say they are waiting to see whether the Biden administration will undo entirely the Trump administration standard or leave some pieces of it in place.

“We look forward to seeing the proposed rule’s text to ensure that the federal government safeguards patients’ need for high-quality health care,” noted Audrey Sandusky, who serves as the spokesperson for the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association.

She added that still, “This action will go a long way toward strengthening patient access to high-quality health care and protecting the integrity of key HHS programs, including the Title X family planning program.” 




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