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Saturday, June 15, 2019

Protecting Religious Freedom

For John, BLUFActually more than religious freedom.  It is freedom of conscience.  Even atheists and agnostics have a sense of right and wrong.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is the sub-headline:

What this administration has finally done is to take the long-standing conscience laws seriously, defining key terms and establishing an effective complaint and enforcement process.

From The Boston Pilot, by Mr Richard Doerfliinger, 7 June 2019.

Here is the lede plus five:

Our political life has become such a war of words that many may not notice that the Trump administration has done something very good and long overdue -- and is being condemned for it.

The very good thing is a regulation to implement numerous federal laws on conscience rights in health care, chiefly on conscientious objection to abortion.

One law, called the Church amendment (after sponsor Sen. Frank Church of Idaho), has been in effect since 1973.  Another, the Weldon amendment (after sponsor Rep. Dave Weldon of Florida), has been signed into law as part of the appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services by every president of both parties since 2004.

Yet no regulation has been in place to clarify key terms in the laws or ensure effective enforcement.

President George W. Bush had proposed such a regulation.  But that was reversed by President Obama, who left all matters of interpretation and enforcement to the HHS Office for Civil Rights.  That office then proceeded to distort the laws' meaning so they would seldom do much good.

For example, the Weldon amendment clearly forbids state governments receiving federal funds to force private health plans to provide abortion coverage.  But when California issued just such a coercive mandate, the Obama administration found no violation, saying that no insurance company had claimed a moral or religious objection to such coverage.

I am saddened that the Obama Administration failed to move forward on this.

Regards  —  Cliff

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