On the day of the annual March for Life, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Alex Azar released a statement on the importance of protecting life in recognition of this being his first March as Secretary of HHS:
“Promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump’s administration. At HHS, through our work in healthcare, human services, public health, and biomedical science, we are committed to this effort. This means not just protecting human life in the administration of our programs, but also respecting the conscience rights of those who participate in HHS-funded programs. Under President Trump, HHS will continue to advance science and improve the health of Americans while protecting our most fundamental freedoms: the right to life and the right of conscience.”
HHS also released two new policies that to protect life and conscience:
1. Enforcing Weldon & Coats-Snowe Amendments: This week, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) notified the State of California that its law requiring pro-life pregnancy resource centers to refer clients for abortions, by posting notices about free or low-cost family planning services and abortion, violated the Weldon and Coats-Snowe Amendments. This is the first time that any state has been found in violation of these laws, reflecting HHS’s heightened commitment to enforcing conscience protection statutes.
2. Ensuring Access to Policies without Abortion Coverage: This week, HHS issued a proposed rule to require that insurance companies that offer ACA plans covering abortions of pregnancies that do not threaten the life of the mother or result from rape or incest must also offer at least one identical plan in the same geographic area that does not cover these abortions. (The rule would not apply in states with abortion coverage mandates.)
For further reading:
- Press release with Secretary Azar’s statement: https://www.hhs.gov/about/
news/2019/01/18/hhs-is- committed-to-protecting-life- and-conscience.html
- Fact sheet on Trump Administration’s actions to protect life: https://www.hhs.gov/about/
news/2019/01/18/trump- administration-actions-to- protect-life-and-conscience. html
- One-pager on Life & Conscience PDF: https://www.hhs.gov/sites/
- Press release on California law in violation of the Weldon and Coats-Snowe amendments:https://www.hhs.gov/about/
news/2019/01/18/ocr-finds- state-california-violated- federal-law-discriminating- against-pregnancy-resource- centers.html.