By DAN FAGAN
Congressional Republicans are drawing a line in the sand on what appears to be another audacious attack on the religious freedom of Americans by President Joe Biden.
Twenty-Six Republican Senators and House members sent a letter to Xavier Becerra after the Health and Human Services Secretary announced a policy change that weakens religious freedom protections for some health care professionals.
Under the HHS change, health care professionals could lose their jobs or licenses if they refuse to perform abortions or sex change operations for religious reasons.
Becerra announced earlier this year his department will partially rescind the “Safeguarding the Rights of Conscience as Protected by Federal Statutes” rule put into place by former Republican President Donald Trump.
The lawmakers say this change flies in the face of congressional intent of the safeguarding law:
The letter was signed by Republican Senators, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Marco Rubio of Florida, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Cindy Hyde Smith of Mississippi, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Roger Marshall M.D. of Kansas, James Rich of Idaho, Mike Braun of Indiana, Steve Daines of Montana, John Thune of South Dakota, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, John Boozman of Arkansas, Mike Crapo of Idaho, and Representatives, Andy Harris M.D. of Maryland, Jim Banks of Indiana, Christopher Smith of New Jersey, Diana Harshbarger of Tennessee, Brad Wenstrup of Ohio, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Robert Aderholt of Alabama, and Mariannette Miller-Meeks M.D. of West Virginia.
“Religious diversity adds to the strength of our society and medical field and no doctor should have to choose between giving up his or her faith or moral convictions and abandoning a vital medical mission,” the lawmakers said.
Congress passed legislation protecting the religious freedom of health care workers. Republicans who signed the letters say Becerra is refusing to follow the law with his rule change.
“Federal dollars should be spent and programs should be executed consistent with laws established by Congress. HHS should borrow additional provisions from the 2019 rule to ensure that conscience rights are adequately protected. We urge HHS to update the proposed regulations as we detail above to robustly enforce health care conscience rights in accord with federal law and Congressional intent,” the lawmakers warned Becerra.
“Without sufficient enforcement by Health and Human services, doctors and nurses lack a crucial tool to ensure that the protections that Congress enacted are implemented and enforced,” said medical doctor Rep. Andy Harris, R-Maryland.
“The Biden administration has deliberately ignored the rights of workers over the desires of employers even if employers demanded their employees violate their own conscience or faith,” said Sen. James Lankford R-Oklahoma. “People have the right to live their own values, not the values of administration officials.”
Another example of Biden trampling on the religious liberty of Americans comes with his twisting of a law passed in 1986.
The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act prohibited hospitals from refusing to treat a patient if they lack the ability to pay.
The federal agency, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, last year, under Biden, created new guidelines for hospitals that had not previously existed in federal law.
They effectively forced doctors to perform elective abortions in a variety of circumstances even when both the mother and the unborn child could be saved.
Biden also diminished religious freedom with his executive order last year tracking federal workers refusing the Covid vaccine for religious reasons. Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal employees was stopped after federal workers sued.
Biden also tried to force all 80 million plus private sector workers to get the Covid vaccine even if they objected for religious reasons.
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down that order but kept in place the mandate for health care workers.
Congress recently abolished the vaccine mandate for military personnel as a part of the National Defense Authorization Act.
In yet another attack on religious liberty, Biden’s “Build Back Better” legislation blocked faith-based facilities from using federal infrastructure funds.
Biden also rescinded a Trump-era rule protecting the religious liberty of faith-based organizations contracting with the federal government.
Another attack on religious freedom came with the Respect for Marriage Act signed by Biden, enshrining gay marriage at the federal level. The legislation also strengthens the Department of Justice’s ability to legally harass businesses refusing to condone and embrace transgenderism or homosexuality.
But conservatives say Biden’s most consequential assault on religious freedom will come if the so-called Equality Act passes.
“The Equality Act will diminish conscience protections for medical professionals, many doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other health care providers. They could be forced to participate in abortions under penalty of law,” says the American College of Pediatricians, a pro-life group.
Critics of The Equality Act also say the law would require doctors, against their will, to perform sex sterilization surgeries on healthy people for the purpose of gender transitioning.
Conservatives believe America’s founding was based on religious freedom. At least 26 members of Congress are willing to stand up to Biden and his war on the fundamental freedom that birthed this nation.
Dan Fagan is a reporter for Must Read Alaska. His email is [email protected]