U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Sarah Stierch (CC BY 4.0)

(Washington, DC) The U.S. Department of Health and Human Servicesā€™ (HHS) issued three pro-life announcements, including one that includes two final rules related to the ObamaCare contraception mandate, a proposed rule to address the hidden abortion surcharge in many insurance plans purchased on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges, and a new funding opportunity for Title X family planning services grants.

The Trump administration published two final rules in the Federal Register, providing religious and moral exemptions from Obamacareā€™s HHS Mandate. The ACA required that employer-provided health plans included ā€œpreventative servicesā€ including abortifacients and sterilization. The final rule leaves the contraceptive mandate in place while providing a clear religious exemption for those Americans who have a religious or moral objection to health insurance that covers abortifacients and sterilization procedures.

HHS has also issued a proposed rule entitled, ā€œPatient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Exchange Program Integrity,ā€ which seeks to address a hidden abortion surcharge in many insurance plans purchased on the federal or state ACA exchanges. The Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding for abortion or insurance plans that include abortion, does not apply to Obamacare. Instead, the ACA directly permits government subsidies to fund insurance plans that cover abortion. The proposed rule will strictly enforce the statutory requirement that the abortion surcharge be collected separately from other insurance premiums.

In addition, the Title X family planning service grants will end in March 2019 and include funding for a number of Planned Parenthood affiliates. Current Title X regulations, put into place during the Clinton administration, require Title X grantees to refer for abortion and permit ā€œcolocationā€ of abortion centers and Title X clinics within the same facility. HHS has issued a proposed rule that would amend the current regulations in order to separate abortion from family planning. If the proposed rule is finalized, existing grantees would then have 60 days to come into compliance with the prohibition on abortion referral and the requirement to separate financially from abortion activities, and one year to comply with the requirement for physical separation from abortion activities.

ā€œI am excited about the commitment of the Trump administration to protect the sanctity of human life, rights of conscience, and religious freedom,ā€ said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. ā€œNo one should be forced to violate their conscience and sincerely-held religious beliefs, and taxpayers should not be forced to fund the killing of unborn babies.ā€

Photo Credit: Sarah Stierch (CC BY 4.0)

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