January 11, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – Despite the fact that President Donald Trump has only 10 days left in office, the left is trying to impeach him yet again, saying that by urging protestors to “peacefully” march to the U.S. Capitol Trump “incited” an “insurrection.” There is also a coordinated effort banning him from almost all social media, showing that perhaps the leader of the free world isn’t necessarily the most powerful person in the world. Why is there such an effort to “unperson” him, to borrow a term from George Orwell’s prophetic 1984?
LifeSiteNews has reported on all aspects of Trump’s presidency as related to life, family, and culture issues. Despite Trump’s support of same-sex “marriage,” which we have never tried to sugarcoat or gloss over, he has nevertheless been a stalwart defender of unborn children, a thorn in Planned Parenthood’s side, and he has strongly defended religious liberty. Here we present a list of his accomplishments for the pro-life and pro-family movement as well as America in general. Much of this list is compiled using information from the Family Research Council, the Susan B. Anthony List, the Trump administration itself, and previous LifeSite coverage.
In addition to the below accomplishments, Trump also kept the U.S. out of new wars; brokered historic peace deals in the Middle East; oversaw record economic growth and employment numbers; axed the Obamacare individual mandate which forced people to buy expensive, low-quality, and often pro-abortion health plans; and signed the biggest package of tax cuts and reforms in history. Under Trump, the FDA approved more affordable generic drugs than ever before in history and many drug companies froze or reversed planned price increases.
Pictured above c.2009: Lisa Miller with her daughter Isabella
More than 10 years ago, in 2009, Lisa Miller took her daughter Isabella and traveled to Nicaragua because of her deep concern that her daughter was being "traumatized" by court-ordered visits with her former lesbian partner.
Two court-appointed advocates – one clinical therapist and one social worker – testified to the apparent trauma experienced by Isabella in sworn testimony. And, Miller, herself, also testified to the apparent trauma experienced by her daughter.
Other affidavits filed with the courts at that time alleged that abuse was taking place.
And so, in 2009, Miller decided to take action and remove Isabella from a deteriorating situation, traveling to Central America.
Please SIGN and SHARE this petition which asks President Trump to show clemency to all involved with the Lisa Miller case by granting them a presidential pardon.
Since 2009, three other people – including two Mennonite pastors and a businessman – who helped Lisa and Isabella travel to Nicaragua were convicted of “international kidnapping” for helping Lisa and her daughter, despite the fact that Lisa had custody of her daughter when they went to Central America.
These Mennonite pastors and businessman have already served their time in federal prisons, but their unjust convictions are a stain on their records.
And now, even though Isabella is considered a legal adult, Lisa Miller is still forced to “hide out” abroad, away from her home country.
The time has come to call an end to the Millers’ exile.
Please SIGN this petition, urging President Trump to issue all involved with Lisa a presidential pardon, and give the Millers a chance to freely return to the United States.
President Trump has been an unwavering ally to the Christian community, and he and his administration have done more for the pro-life cause and religious freedom than all other administrations combined.
By pardoning Lisa and the men who helped her and her daughter, President Trump could once again show his solidarity with the Christians who support and love him and continue to stand with him.
At the time that these events transpired, Miller thought she was doing the right thing to protect her daughter and she has already “served time” in exile.
Therefore, a presidential pardon could never be taken to mean that an actual kidnapping won't be pursued by federal authorities in the future.
But, given the special set of circumstances in this particular case, we urge President Trump to issue the pardon because the time the Millers have spent abroad – away from family, friends, and colleagues – could be considered “time served.”
And, by pardoning Lisa, President Trump could also give Isabella a new lease on life. By pardoning Kenneth Miller and Timothy Miller (who are unrelated to Lisa and Isabella) and Christian businessman Philip Zodhiates, President Trump could clear their records and give them a new lease on life, too.
Thank you for SIGNING and SHARING this urgent petition.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
'New LifeSite petition asks Trump to pardon Christian mom who protected her daughter'
'Exclusive Interview with Lisa Miller, Ex-Lesbian Fighting for Custody of Own Child against “Civil Union” Partner' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/exclusive-interview-with-lisa-miller-ex-lesbian-fighting-for-custody-of-own
'Experts testify to trauma experienced by Isabella Miller in sworn testimony now published online' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/experts-testify-to-trauma-experienced-by-isabella-miller-in-sworn-testimony
'Pastor spent 2 years in jail for helping girl escape court-imposed lesbian ‘mom’' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pastor-spent-2-years-in-jail-for-helping-girl-escape-court-imposed-lesbian
Also notable is the fact that Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord and the U.S.-Iran Deal, both of which were pushed by far-left radicals. The pro-abortion Paris Climate Accord includes language “designed to promote abortion and contraception,” as Voice of the Family put it. It is also premised on dubious “climate change” science and undermines national sovereignty.
Joe Biden has said he will rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and has promised to implement the left’s long wish-list, which includes laws (particularly the so-called Equality Act) and/or executive orders protecting abortion on demand, transgenderism in civil rights law, and forcing Americans to violate their consciences as related to abortion, contraception, same-sex “marriage,” and transgender confusion.
Additionally, Trump has made numerous strong statements about national sovereignty and the role of Christianity in the public square. These include his pro-God Poland speech and Christmas messages about the birth of Jesus which have gone viral.
He has also pushed back against political correctness and the divisive, anti-human “critical race theory” that undergirds it. And during the coronavirus crisis as leftist governors tried to ban people from going to church (among other normal and necessary activities) while keeping marijuana shops and abortion centers open, Trump spoke out in favor of religious freedom, calling places of worship “essential.”
As the world focuses on the deletion of Trump’s accounts from the most prominent social media sites, LifeSite presents these lists so that Trump’s pro-life, pro-family accomplishments are not forgotten. They are long lists, but worth reading all the way through.
Broad pro-life accomplishments
- Appointed pro-life judges including three to the U.S. Supreme Court
- Allowed states to defund Planned Parenthood of Title X and Medicaid money
- Stopped taxpayer funding of abortion overseas
- Defunded the pro-abortion United Nations Population Fund, which cooperates with China’s forced abortion regime
- Required health insurers to disclose if their plans cover abortions
- Cut $60 million from Planned Parenthood’s federal funding
- Ended the Obama-enforced contraceptive mandate, which had forced corporations with religious objections from covering abortifacients in their health plans
- Appointed many strong pro-lifers to key positions within his administration
- Created a new office for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Canceled contract for taxpayer-funded experimentation with aborted baby body parts
- Allowed Texas to fund a health program that does not send funds to abortion businesses
- Withheld $200 million from California for violating conscience rights. The state had imposed universal abortion coverage mandates on health insurance.
- Took action against Vermont for violating conscience rights and forcing a nurse to help abort a baby
- Became the first American president to speak at the March for Life
- Signed an executive order protecting preemies and infants born alive after failed abortions
- Clarified that abortion is not a “civil right”
- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signed the Geneva Consensus Declaration, joining 31 other nations to declare there is “no international right to abortion” at the U.N.
- Asked the U.S. Supreme Court to restore the ban on at-home use of abortion pills
- Withdrew U.S. funding ($450 million) from the pro-abortion World Health Organization (WHO), which has close ties to Communist China
An important part of being pro-life is protecting the rights of people with disabilities
The above-mentioned Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has taken many actions to protect the rights of vulnerable people, particularly those with disabilities. It is this office that was part of the Trump administration’s efforts to get California and Vermont to comply with laws protecting conscience rights in healthcare, and its intervention to ensure people hospitalized with the coronavirus had access to a priest and the Last Rites.
Below is a list from OCR of its many accomplishments in the area of protecting and helping Americans with disabilities. Many of these also intersect with bioethics, like the rationing of healthcare. OCR compiled this list in honor of the 30th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).
Defending Rights and Supporting Critical Needs During COVID-19
- Awarding Funding to Address the Needs of Individuals with Disabilities in Emergency Responses: CDC has awarded $3 million in COVID-19 funding to support the development of resources for people with disabilities who have extreme low literacy and the creation of national standards to inform emergency response communications for reaching people with disabilities. CDC also awarded $10 million in COVID-19 funding to the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, the National Association of County and City Health Officials, and the Association of University Centers on Disabilities to address the needs of Americans with disabilities in COVID-19 preparedness, planning, mitigation, and recovery efforts.
- Unprecedented Support for Independent Living: Through the CARES Act, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) awarded an unprecedented $85 million in direct funding to more than 350 Centers for Independent Living (CILs), community-based organizations led by individuals with disabilities. With this funding, individuals received food and prepared meals, personal care and basic home items, personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves to ensure continuity of support services, housing assistance, and alternative transportation for medical appointments. CILs also transformed direct services to include virtual options and supported people with disabilities by providing access to technology and the Internet.
- Guidance on Disability Rights Protections: In March 2020, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a Bulletin on Civil Rights laws and HIPAA during the COVID-19 pandemic, reminding covered entities of their obligations to provide effective communications and reasonable modifications to persons with disabilities. This follows emergency guidance issued in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
- Preventing Disability Discrimination in Triage Decisions: In April 2020, OCR resolved a complaint against Pennsylvania after the state revised its interim Crisis Standards of Care to prevent disability discrimination in triaging of vital health care.
- Preventing Disability Discrimination in Ventilator Allocation Decisions During COVID-19: In April 2020, OCR resolved a complaint with the state of Alabama concerning ventilator rationing guidelines that categorically excluded persons with profound intellectual disabilities.
- Preventing Disability Discrimination in Hospital “No Visitor” Policies During COVID-19: In June 2020, OCR resolved a complaint with the state of Connecticut after the state issued an executive order on no-visitor policies in hospitals to ensure these policies do not deny reasonable access to needed support persons for people with disabilities. OCR also resolved a complaint with Hartford Hospital after it agreed to grant a 73-year-old woman with aphasia access to support persons to help with her communication and comprehension in her treatment.
- Protecting Rights and Preventing Abuse in Long-Term Care: ACL began issuing guidance in March to help State Long-Term Care Ombudsmen continue working to protect the health, welfare, and rights of nursing home residents, most of whom are protected under the ADA.
- Protecting Against Disability Discrimination in State Triage Plan: In June 2020, OCR resolved a complaint against Tennessee after it updated its crisis standards of care plan to ensure that the criteria does not discriminate against persons based on disability or age. Through technical assistance, the state updated its policies to ensure that hospitals do not deny life-saving care during a crisis based on stereotypes about disabilities or other impermissible factors.
Protecting Rights in Healthcare
- Access to Health Care for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities: In February 2019, OCR resolved a case in North Carolina alleging discrimination against an individual with autism who was deemed ineligible to be on a heart transplant wait list because of his disability. After OCR intervened in the case, the medical facility reversed course and allowed the individual to be eligible for the waiting list.
- Access to Sign Language Interpreter for Deaf Child: In July 2019, OCR resolved a case with Mid-Maryland Musculoskeletal Institute to protect a 6-year-old patient’s rights to effective communication while attending physical therapy sessions.
Preventing Discrimination in Human Services
- Ensuring Beneficiary Safety in Group Homes – PDF: In January 2018, OCR, the HHS Office of Inspector General, and ACL jointly published a report: “Ensuring Beneficiary Health and Safety in Group Homes Through State Implementation of Comprehensive Compliance Oversight – PDF.” ACL has subsequently invested nearly $10 million in projects that seek to enhance the quality, effectiveness, and monitoring of home- and community-based services (HCBS) for people with developmental disabilities; to improve the quality of community living; and ensure health and safety.
- Disability Discrimination Protections for Individuals with Opioid Use Disorder: In May 2020, OCR secured an agreement with West Virginia to protect persons in recovery from opioid use disorder, resolving an uncle’s complaint that he had been denied the ability to gain custody of his young niece and nephew (in state custody) due to his enrollment in a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program.
- Protections for Individuals with Disabilities in State Child Welfare Systems: In November 2019, OCR entered an agreement with Oregon to protect the rights of parents with disabilities. OCR’s investigation was spurred by allegations that the Oregon Department of Human Services removed two children from their parents because of stereotypical beliefs and assumptions concerning the parents’ intellectual disabilities.
Empowering Americans with Disabilities to Live in the Community
- Helping Veterans with Disabilities Remain in Their Homes: ACL has worked with the Department of Veterans Affairs to expand the Veteran-Directed Care program, which allows veterans to use VA benefits to work with ACL-supported aging and disability networks to access the services they need to live independently.
- Training and Assistance under the ADA: ACL’s ADA National Network provides training and technical assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act. In 2019, the Network hosted over 1,100 training activities and nearly 17,000 individual consultations with people with disabilities, agencies, businesses, and state and local governments. During the pandemic, the ADA Network has provided technical assistance to consumers and employers on the implications for disability-related services and return to work.
- Promoting Innovation to Combat Isolation: In partnership with the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, ACL launched a prize competition to combat social isolation for people with disabilities, veterans and older adults. The Mobilizing and Empowering the Nation and Technology to Address Loneliness & social isolation (MENTAL) Health Innovation Challenge will award $750,000 in prizes for development of an easy-to-use online system that offers recommendations for programs, activities, and resources that can help users connect to others and engage in the community, based on their individual needs, interests, and abilities. The winning system will be announced and demonstrated at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 2021 and will become the centerpiece of a national public awareness campaign.
- Improving Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) in Medicaid: CMS issued several pieces of guidance to assist states in implementing the criteria defining a home and community-based setting, balancing the need to ensure settings facilitate and empower beneficiary autonomy and community integration with the need to ensure a workable implementation approach for states and providers. CMS has developed an HCBS quality framework, strategy, and work plan to align and coordinate activities within CMS and with other partners related to HCBS quality measurement, in order to ensure the health and safety of people receiving HCBS; promote high-quality and accessible HCBS; and promote value-based care and services for people receiving HCBS.
- A New Center to Combat Health Inequities: In September 2019, ACL launched the Center for Human Dignity in Healthcare for Individuals with Disabilities to reduce life-limiting healthcare inequities faced by people with disabilities. The center, based at the Children’s Hospital Medical Center at the University of Cincinnati, increases education around four focus areas: Prenatal Genetic Testing, Mental Health and Suicidality, Organ Transplantation and Aging and End of Life. The Center is conducting an analysis to identify gaps and investigate the impact of discrimination and disparities on the medical treatment outcomes of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD). In response to COVID-19, the Center developed two fact sheets on medical discrimination: one for people with disabilities and one for medical practitioners.
- Promoting Physical Activity for Americans with Disabilities: ACL refocused the I Can Do It program, returning it to its roots as a program that partners with schools to encourage and support physical activity for children with disabilities.
Expanding Work Opportunities
- A First-Ever Task Force to Boost Employment for Americans with Disabilities: ACL launched a historic government-wide task force focused on expanding employment for Americans with disabilities, to build on the historically low unemployment rates for Americans with disabilities in the booming Trump economy before COVID-19. Fourteen federal agencies actively participate in the task force’s work on key issues, particularly the removal of barriers that inhibit employment and, recently, the anticipated difficulty of post-COVID-19 employment and reentry.
- A Prize to Boost Private-Sector Support for Employment: As part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2019, ACL announced a national prize competition, Inclusive Talent Pipeline for American Business, which drew nearly 60 applicants from the private and nonprofit sectors to create and operationalize innovative and market-disruptive approaches to recruiting, retaining, and advancing employees with disabilities. Five Round One prize winners were announced in April 2020 and are currently preparing to pilot their proposed models in the fall of this year.
- New Wheelchair Options in Medicare: Medicare expanded coding and increased payments for complex rehabilitative wheelchairs to ensure access to newer, expensive complex rehabilitative wheelchair options and accessories.
- Broader Access to Therapy: Medicare allowed therapy assistants (rather than only therapists) to perform maintenance therapy under the Medicare home health benefit starting in 2020, helping to expand access to this important service for all beneficiaries, including individuals with disabilities.
- Reforming Payment for Medicare Advantage Beneficiaries with Disabilities: Starting in 2017, CMS modified the Medicare risk adjustment model used to pay beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans to have separate factors for disabled (versus aged) beneficiaries, to better reflect their expected cost to the plans, allowing payments to be better targeted to plans based on the cost of their enrollees.
- Expanding More Flexible Preventive Services: For 2018, CMS finalized billing codes for “prolonged preventive services,” allowing for additional Medicare payment for preventive service visits that extend beyond the typical time, which can be important for beneficiaries with mobility or cognitive disabilities who may take extra time to complete these visits.
- Closing the Life Expectancy Gap: In June 2020, ACL announced a funding opportunity to improve health outcomes for the ID/DD population, who have significantly lower life expectancy than their non-ID/DD peers. Funding will support a national consortium that will build upon existing efforts to collaborate with medical and allied health schools to embed ID/DD content into their curriculum.
Expanding Research on Disability Issues
- Establishing Prevalence of ID/DD: ACL is leading an interagency effort to establish and maintain valid and reliable prevalence rates of intellectual and developmental disabilities and to improve data about health status and factors that influence health outcomes of individuals with ID/DD.
- A First-Ever Government Wide Inventory: A partnership between the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and ACL’s National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) aims to create a government-wide inventory of all federally supported disability research, launching in the fall of 2020, housed at the NIH Library.
- Building a Limb Loss and Preservation Registry: In 2018, NIH and the Department of Defense announced plans to establish a registry to document the number of people in the United States living with limb loss and to provide insights on their challenges and needs.
- Studying Conditions that Affect Americans with Down Syndrome: In June 2018, NIH launched the INCLUDE (INvestigation of Co-occurring conditions across the Lifespan to Understand Down syndromE) project to study conditions that affect both individuals with Down syndrome and the general population. The goal is to learn more about these conditions in both populations so that new treatments can be developed in both groups. People with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities have often been excluded from participating in clinical research and clinical trials because it was thought that it would be too difficult to include them in complicated research studies, or the process to provide informed consent would be too challenging. People with Down syndrome are now being invited to speak up about their research needs, and new clinical trials supported by INCLUDE focus on topics such as sleep apnea, Alzheimer’s disease, and treatment of co-occurring ADHD.
- New Hope for Turning Thoughts into Speech: The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders (NIDCD) supported groundbreaking research on augmentative and alternative communication devices, which help people with voice, speech, or language disorders communicate. This includes people with ALS or brainstem stroke who lose their ability to move their muscles for writing or speaking, even as they are able to think and reason normally. In an important advance, NIDCD-supported researchers developed an approach to turn a person’s thoughts directly into speech. The scientists trained a computer algorithm that is typically used to interpret voice commands to decipher brain activity instead. Individuals with epilepsy undergoing brain surgery listened to sentences spoken by different people, and the researchers used the neural patterns measured from these patients to train the computer algorithm. When the patients simply thought of the words they had heard, the algorithm was able to accurately decipher the thoughts 75 percent of the time.
- Making Hearing Aids More Accessible and Affordable: Approximately 28.8 million adults in the United States could benefit from using hearing aids, yet only one in four has ever used one. Research funded by NIDCD directly contributed to a measure included in the 2017 FDA reauthorization act to create a first-of-its-kind category of direct-to-consumer hearing aids for adults with perceived mild-to-moderate hearing loss, which is expected to spur innovation, reduce consumer costs, and improve hearing health care for millions of Americans who have hearing loss by making hearing aids more accessible and affordable.
- Designing Visually Accessible Spaces for People with Low Vision: Mobility challenges are one of the most serious consequences of impaired vision, and one approach for dealing with this problem is to make public spaces more accessible for people with low vision. Building on the concept of environmental modifications that enhance physical mobility (such as ramps for wheelchairs), the National Eye Institute (NEI) supported a combination of empirical and computational research to extend the concept of environmental modifications to “visual accessibility” (i.e., to what degree one can use vision to travel safely through an environment). In the final phase of this project, the models developed to predict low-vision visibility and navigability of real-world spaces are being translated into a set of open-source software modules to enhance architectural and lighting design for visual accessibility. The intended use is for architects and lighting designers to submit a design to the software and get a labeled output indicating what is likely to be a potential mobility hazard for pedestrians with reduced acuity and/or contrast sensitivity.
- Advances in Turning Thoughts into Computer Control: NEI is supporting work aimed at helping quadriplegic people use computer interfaces. By implanting recording electrodes in visual and motor areas of the brain, the researchers are able to turn the person’s intentions for cursor movements on a computer screen into action.
- Progress on Restoring Visual Perception to the Blind: NEI is supporting work aimed at helping blind people achieve useable visual perception. By placing stimulating electrodes on the visual cortex of the brain, the researchers are able to turn images recorded by a camera mounted on the head into the sensation of a rough pattern of light and dark. This interface is being gradually improved by training computational algorithms to optimize the pattern of stimulation. The blind patient also has to be trained to work with the brain-machine interface, but good progress is being made.
Detailed list of accomplishments related to pro-life issues, religious liberty, and the family
The Family Research Council Action published this list of Trump’s accomplishments by year on issues social conservatives care about. It was last updated September 3, 2020. A PDF of this excellent FRC resource is available here.
- On January 23, President Trump reinstated and expanded the Mexico City Policy, which blocks funding for international organizations that perform or promote abortion. This new program is known as Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance (PLGHA), which now covers $8.8 billion in family planning and global health funds that go to organizations abroad (none of whom may perform or promote abortion).
- On February 22, the Department of Education, in conjunction with the Department of Justice (DOJ) rescinded President Obama's guidance that required public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms and showers of their choice.
- On April 7, President Trump's nominee Neil Gorsuch was confirmed to the Supreme Court. Justice Gorsuch has already developed a reputation as an originalist who will rule the right way on religious liberty issues. Gorsuch is representative of President Trump's judicial nominees overall.
- On May 4, President Trump signed an Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty (known as the “Religious Liberty Executive Order”), broadly setting forth religious liberty as a policy priority of the administration, and requiring all federal agencies to take action to protect it. The order also more specifically addressed conscience protections, forthcoming guidance from the DOJ, and religious liberty in the context of free speech.
- On August 25, President Trump announced changes to the Obama administration's Department of Defense (DOD) policy which had allowed military personnel to serve even if they openly self-identified as transgender. (A DOD study found the Obama administration's policy to be detrimental to military readiness, lethality, and unit cohesion.)
- On September 7, DOJ filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court defending the religious freedom rights of baker Jack Phillips in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. This filing is representative of other actions defending religious freedom taking place throughout the Trump administration DOJ.
- On October 6, DOJ issued guidance and an implementing memo (as instructed by the Religious Liberty Executive Order) to all federal agencies explaining religious freedom law and how religious liberty must be protected. This guidance laid out a broad defense of religious liberty based on multiple statutes and provided each federal agency with guidelines for protecting religious liberty.
- Also on October 6, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed two regulations to deal with the Obamacare “HHS contraceptive mandate” that had for years violated conscience and religious liberty. These new regulations exempt organizations that have moral or religious objections to purchasing insurance that includes coverage of contraceptives and abortion-causing drugs and devices.
- On January 16, DOJ filed an amicus brief with the District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on behalf of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. The Archdiocese had wanted to promote a religious message during the Christmas holiday but, had been denied advertising space within the District's public transit system.
- On January 18, DOJ filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue defending the First Amendment rights of parents and students who attend a religious school, to participate in a private school scholarship program.
- On January 18, HHS announced a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within its Office of Civil Rights (OCR). This new division was established to enforce federal laws that protect conscience rights and religious freedom.
- On January 19, HHS issued a new proposed regulation on conscience protections related to abortion. Specifically, the regulation proposed to implement 25 laws that protect pro-life healthcare entities against discrimination by federal agencies — or state or local governments receiving federal funds — due to their objections to participating in abortion, sterilization, and other morally objectionable procedures.
- On January 24, Sam Brownback was confirmed as U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. In choosing Brownback for this role, President Trump demonstrated the administration's commitment to religious freedom by choosing someone with gravitas and experience on the issue.
- On March 23, 2018, the White House and DOD issued a new policy allowing existing personnel to remain in the military while preventing those who have been diagnosed with “gender dysphoria” or had undergone gender transition surgery from joining the military. Those who are transgender and stable for 36 months could join so long as they serve in accordance with their biological sex.
- On April 26, Mike Pompeo was confirmed as Secretary of State. In choosing Pompeo for this position, President Trump chose someone who cares deeply about religious liberty and will make it a priority to see the issue advanced through this administration.
- On April 30, during a press conference with Nigeria's president, President Trump raised the issue of religious freedom and the killing of Christians in that country — bringing attention to an issue that had largely been neglected by other government officials.
- On May 22, HHS issued a new proposed regulation reversing the Title X family planning regulations implemented by President Clinton. The proposed regulation would restore the separation of abortion services from the federal Title X family planning program, which President Reagan first implemented. The proposed regulation would also ensure parents are more involved in the decisions of minors to obtain services from Title X clinics. It reverses the discriminatory abortion referral requirement the Clinton regulations implemented and is poised to put a dent into Planned Parenthood's roughly $60 million annual revenues from the Title X program.
- On June 13, DOJ announced the Place to Worship Initiative, designed to increase enforcement and public awareness of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUPIA). This federal law protects places of worship and other religious uses of property. Through this initiative, federal prosecutors will receive training about legal protections for houses of worship.
- On July 24-26, the State Department held the first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. Political and civil society leaders from around the world gathered in Washington, D.C. for a three-day summit to discuss religious freedom issues and solutions. The Potomac Declaration, issued at the Ministerial, made a strong statement about the state of religious freedom around the globe and provided a plan of action for promoting global religious freedom. The U.S. also announced the International Religious Freedom Fund (to provide emergency assistance to victims of religiously motivated discrimination and abuse around the world) and the Genocide Recovery and Persecution Response Initiative (which has provided nearly $373 million to help persecuted ethnic and religious minorities in northern Iraq restore their communities). The U.S. was among 25 countries who signed a statement condemning terrorism and the abuse of religious believers by non-state actors.
- On July 30, DOJ announced a Religious Liberty Task Force to fully implement religious liberty guidance and policy across all components of the DOJ.
- On August 1, the Trump administration relied on Executive Order 13818 (which builds on Global Magnitsky Act authority) to sanction two Turkish officials over the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson due to his Christian faith. This Executive Order ultimately resulted in Pastor Brunson's release.
- On September 24, HHS terminated a $15,900 contract with Advanced Bioscience Resources to procure fetal tissue from aborted babies for research. The termination of this contract led HHS to announce an audit of all acquisitions and research involving human fetal tissue to ensure consistency with statutes and regulations.
- On October 6, President Trump's nominee Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh is the second constitutional originalist the president saw confirmed to the Court.
- On November 7, HHS finalized its two regulations to protect conscience and religious liberty from long-running problems with the Obamacare “HHS contraceptive mandate.” These two final regulations exempt organizations with either a moral or religious objection to purchasing insurance with coverage of contraceptives and abortion-causing drugs and devices. The regulations took effect on January 14, 2019.
- On November 9, HHS proposed a new regulation to address an abortion surcharge hidden in many plans purchased on the Obamacare exchange. This proposed regulation would enforce the requirement that abortion surcharges are to be collected separately from other insurance premiums. This requirement was not closely followed under the Obama administration, leading HHS to now more strictly enforce the separation of abortion payments from other payments.
- On December 26, DOJ filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court defending a publicly-displayed cross-shaped veteran's memorial that had been challenged as a violation of the Establishment Clause. This position is representative of the Trump administration's originalist approach to the Constitution concerning First Amendment rights and other issues. Such an approach results in legal analysis that interprets the law rather than injecting policy preferences into it.
- On January 18, HHS notified California that its law requiring pregnancy resource centers to post notices about how to obtain an abortion violated the pro-life Weldon and Coates-Snowe Amendments. This marks the first time that the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division at HHS found a state in violation of these laws. This demonstrates the administration's commitment to enforcing conscience protections and its pro-life priorities.
- On January 19, at the request of 169 members of Congress and 49 senators, President Trump sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in which he promised to veto any legislation that weakens current pro-life Federal policies and laws. This letter was a message to the new Democrat ma jority in the House that longstanding pro-life protections like the Hyde Amendment and safeguards protecting the conscience rights of health care providers are not negotiable.
- On February 22, HHS announced final rule changes governing the Title X family planning program. Consistent with federal law, these rule changes ensured that Title X clinics would be financially and physically separate from abortion facilities and would not refer patients for abortions. Since the implementation of the rule, Planned Parenthood and several pro-abortion states voluntarily decided to withdraw from the program rather than quit performing abortions or referring patients for abortions.
- On March 8, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback criticized China's poor religious freedom record in a speech he delivered in Hong Kong.
- On April 12, the Trump administration's policy on military service by those with gender dysphoria went into effect. This policy will help halt the deterioration of military readiness, lethality, and unit cohesion caused by social experimentation in the military.
- On May 2, HHS announced a final rule to expand the structure in which federal conscience laws are enforced. In 2011, President Obama issued a rule that enforced only three federal conscience provisions. The new regulation under President Trump covers 25 existing statutes, which will be enforced by the new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, part of the HHS OCR.
- On May 5, at the World Health Assembly, the Trump administration issued a joint statement on behalf of the United States and eight other nations calling on other countries to join an effort to focus on women's health issues that unify rather than create dissension among members (like abortion and sexual and reproductive health). This statement was the first action taken under the administration's new Protecting Life in Global Health Policy (PLGHP), which seeks to build a global coalition to promote women's health while also protecting unborn life and strengthening the family. This policy works in conjunction with the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance (PLGHA) program, which restricts funding for organizations abroad that perform or promote abortion.
- On May 24, HHS proposed a new regulation that clarifies that discrimination on the basis of sex in section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act was to be interpreted under the plain meaning of the word. Therefore, it does not include “gender identity” or “termination of pregnancy” as set forth by a 2016 Obama administration regulation. The HHS regulation will continue to enforce existing civil rights protections; however, it makes clear that the federal government will not force physicians to participate in gender reassignment surgeries or abortions.
- On June 5, after an extensive audit into fetal tissue research, the Trump administration announced a major change in the enforcement of research contracts. HHS would no longer conduct intramural (internal) research using tissue from aborted babies and would greatly increase the ethics rules and safeguards that govern extramural (external) fetal tissue research contracts. All new external contracts will be subject to a congressionally authorized ethics advisory board, making it much more difficult for fetal tissue research contracts to be awarded by the National Institute of Health.
- On July 16-18, the State Department held the second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a new global initiative, the International Religious Freedom Alliance, meant to provide a way for like-minded countries to work together to advance religious freedom. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai gave a compelling speech condemning the use of technology to track and control the lives of religious minorities. The United States was among 14 signatory countries on a statement of concern about technology and religious freedom. The U.S. was also one of 34 countries that signed a statement of concern on counterterrorism as a pretext for the repression of religious freedom; one of 27 countries that signed a statement condemning blasphemy, apostasy, or other laws that restrict religious freedom; and was one of 46 countries that signed a statement that called upon government officials to condemn attacks on places of worship and to work with religious communities to protect these places. At this event, the State Department and USAID also announced new religious freedom training programs for foreign service officers.
- On July 16, the State Department placed targeted sanctions on Burmese military officials for their human rights and religious freedom violations committed against the Rohingya Muslim population.
- On July 18, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and HHS Secretary Alex Azar issued a joint letter on International Partnerships that called states to join a coalition of countries that seek to advocate against pro-abortion policies at the World Health Organization and the United Nations (UN).
- In August 2019, DOJ filed amicus briefs with the Supreme Court in two important religious liberty cases, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Bostock v. Clayton County/Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda. Through these filings, DOJ advanced a biologically binary definition of sex and those who operate accordingly, whether because of science or religious belief.
- On August 15, the Department of Labor (DOL) proposed a new regulation that would clarify the scope and application of religious exemptions for federal contractors. Under the Obama administration, the scope of religious exemption at the DOL was severely narrowed. The current DOL relied on the history of our nation's preservation of religious liberty, the First Amendment, and Supreme Court decisions to re-invigorate the exemption to its historical and constitutional parameters.
- On August 28, the HHS OCR issued a notice of violation to the University of Vermont Medical Center for forcing a nurse to participate in an abortion despite a conscience objection. This marks the third time that the HHS Religious Freedom Division under President Trump has investigated a conscience complaint related to participating in or promoting abortion.
- On September 10, the State Department placed targeted sanctions on Russian officials for their religious freedom violations and torture of Jehovah's Witnesses.
- On September 23, President Trump hosted a meeting during the U.N. General Assembly and gave a speech solely on the topic of religious freedom. During the speech, he announced a U.S. policy initiative to protect places of worship, pledging an additional $25 million in funding to protect religious sites and relics. President Trump also announced the U.S. would form a coalition within the business community to protect religious freedom. This is the first time a U.S. president has hosted a meeting focused solely on religious freedom at the UN.
- On September 24, President Trump discussed the need to protect religious freedom during his UN General Assembly speech, in which he also discussed China and Iran — two major violators of religious freedom.
- On September 25, HHS Secretary Alex Azar delivered a statement at the UN General Assembly stating that there is no international right to abortion, and that the U.S. does not support ambiguous terms like “sexual and reproductive health” in UN documents.
- On October 7, the Department of Commerce blacklisted 28 Chinese companies whose surveillance technology products are used to systematically oppress and control — and violate the religious freedom — of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, China.
- On October 11, 2019, Attorney General Barr delivered a striking defense of religious liberty at Notre Dame Law School. He noted, “[t]he imperative of protecting religious freedom was not just a nod in the direction of piety. It reflects the Framers' belief that religion was indispensable to sustaining our free system of government.” The Attorney General proceeded to remind the audience that religion gives us the “right rules to live by.” Barr highlighted the recent attacks on religious liberty, and that the DOJ under his leadership has been fighting back and protecting religious liberty.
- On November 14, the U.S. government lead a statement on behalf of itself and 10 other countries at the Nairobi Summit, once again calling upon the international community to focus on areas of consensus instead of divisive issues like abortion and sexual and reproductive health.
- On November 19, HHS issued a rule removing burdensome requirements that all grantees, including those that are faith-based, must accept same-sex marriages and profess gender identity as valid in order to be eligible to participate in grant programs. This included the adoption and foster care space, where these requirements had been used to shut down faith-based providers of foster care and adoption.
- On November 27, President Trump signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act into law, which affirms Hong Kong's semi-autonomous status and protects against Chinese government encroachment, which is a threat to Hong Kong's religious freedom.
- On December 19, the Treasury Department sanctioned two Iranian judges responsible for human rights violations. One of the judges was known to violate the rights of Iran's Christian and Baha'i religious minority communities
- On December 20, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a final regulation to address the abortion surcharge hidden in many plans purchased on the Obamacare exchange. This final rule aligns federal regulations with section 1303 of the Affordable Care Act, ensuring that consumers know their health care plan covers abortion and that funding for abortion is kept separate from all other covered services.
- On January 16, HHS Secretary Alex Azar hosted 34 countries for a meeting on how to promote women's health and protect the lives of the unborn. This meeting followed an invitation sent by Secretary Azar and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to 70 different countries inviting them to join a coalition to oppose international efforts to enshrine abortion as a human right.
- On January 16, the Departments of Education and Justice issued guidance on constitutionally protected prayer and religious expression in public elementary and secondary schools. This guidance ensures that prayer in schools is properly protected and not unconstitutionally prohibited or curtailed.
- On January 16, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) sent a memo to the heads of executive departments and agencies providing guidance on Executive Order (EO) 1379 8 “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty.” In order to protect the ability of religious organizations to operate in the public square, this memo required the agencies to review the EO and publish policies on how they will comply.
- On January 17, nine federal agencies (the Departments of Agriculture, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, Justice, Labor,Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development, along with the U.S. Agency for International Development) proposed rules leveling the playing field for faith-based organizations wishing to participate in grant programs or become a contractor. The rules eliminated two requirements placed on faith-based organizations that were not placed on secular organizations.
- On January 22, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at HHS approved a family planning waiver for Texas to implement a state-run Medicaid program that excludes abortion providerslike Planned Parenthood. This makes Texas the first state to receive Medicaid funding for a family planning program that does not include abortion providers.
- On January 24, President Trump became the first sitting president to give remarks in person at the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. In his address he stated the eternal truth that every child is a sacred gift from God and reiterated his effort to defend the dignity and sanctity of every human life.
- Also on January 24, HHS Secretary Alex Azar announced live at Family Research Council's ProLifeCon event that HHS issued a notice of violation to California for violating the federal Weldon Amendment by mandating all health insurers provide coverage for abortion. California's abortion coverage mandate has deprived over 28,000 residents of plans that do not cover abortion. This marks the second time that HHS has issued a notice of violation to California for violating federal conscience laws and is the fourth enforcement action taken by the HHS OCR's Conscience and Religious Freedom Division.
- In February, the Trump administration filled the role of Special Adviser to the President on International Religious Freedom within the National Security Council. This role was authorized by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, but has remained unfilled for over 20 years since that law's enactment. President Trump is the first president to dedicate a full-time staffer to this role and fill it on a permanent basis.
- On February 4, during his State of the Union address, President Trump called on Congress to pass legislation that would ban late-term abortions. To highlight the need for this legislation, he invited special guest Ellie Schneider, who was born at just 21 weeks gestation.
- On February 5, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launched the International Religious Freedom Alliance. The Alliance will unite government leaders from like-minded nations to strategize ways to promote religious freedom and protect religious minorities around the world.
- On February 25, OMB issued a Statement of Administrative Policy strongly supporting two pro-life bills being voted on in the U.S. Senate: the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. Had Congress passed these bills, the president's advisors would have recommended that he sign both into law.
- On March 24, DOJ filed a statement of interest in a case protecting women against men intruding on their sporting competitions. The statement made clear that athletic qualifications on the basis of “gender identity” were harmful to women's sports.
- On March 28, amid the coronavirus pandemic, HHS OCR issued a strong statement reminding health care entities of their obligation to treat persons with disabilities with the same dignity and worth as everyone else. OCR reiterated its duty to enforce current civil rights laws and has already worked with states to remove discriminatory practices from their pandemic health plans.
- On April 2, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback held a special briefing. He called upon China, North Korea, Iran, and Russia to release their prisoners of conscience in light of the contagious coronavirus. Many of these prisoners were imprisoned for their religious faith.
- On April 3, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued a FAQ document confirming that churches and religious nonprofits are eligible for assistance like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in the coronavirus relief legislation known as the CARES Act. These clarifying protections ensure organizations would not be discriminated against based on their religious affiliation and would not have to give up their religious freedom in order to participate in these programs. In addition, the administration used an affiliation rule to ensure that large abortion providers like Planned Parenthood would not be eligible for coronavirus relief in the CARES Act.
- On April 14, DOJ filed a statement of interest protecting the religious liberty of church-goers in Greenville, Mississippi. During the coronavirus pandemic, the city of Greenville banned all religious services, even those that were able to abide by social distancing standards with drive-in church services.
- On April 17, the Department of Homeland Security included “clergy for essential support” in its list of personnel and entities deemed “essential” for purposes of responding to the coronavirus. This designation allows clergy and pastors more freedom to continue to operate and serve those around them in need at this time.
- On April 27, Attorney General William Barr directed federal prosecutors to monitor and, if necessary, take action to correct state and local policies that discriminate against religious institutionsand believers while battling the coronavirus pandemic.
- On May 3, DOJ filed a statement of interest supporting the religious freedom of Lighthouse Fellowship Church in Chincoteague Island, Virginia. After the church held a 16-person worship service on Palm Sunday (following strict social distancing protocols), a criminal citation and summons were issued against the pastor pursuant to Governor Ralph Northam's executive order which banned in-person religious services but allowed large gatherings for businesses like liquor stores and dry cleaners.
- As of May 12, the Trump administration has overseen the confirmation of 193 federal judges, including two Supreme Court justices and 51 federal appeals court judges. Counting seven other judicial confirmations for roles outside the federal court system, President Trump has confirmed 200 judges so far during his time in office. An overwhelming number of President Trump's judicial nominees have been constitutional originalists, who will interpret the law as written, rather than interpret it according to their personal policy preferences. As judges, these nominees will rule correctly on religious liberty and pro-life issues.
- On May 15, the DOL issued guidance implementing the administration's Religious Liberty Executive Order and the DOJ religious liberty guidance. The DOL guidance also cited to the OMB memo from earlier this year which directed all grant-administering agencies to detail how they will protect religious liberty in the context of such grants, and included specific action steps to ensure that religious liberty is protected.
- On May 18, USAID Acting Administrator John Barsa sent a letter to the UN Secretary General advocating that the UN not push abortion during the coronavirus crisis. Barsa noted that abortion is not an “essential service,” and there are many actual health needs at this time. Therefore, the United States, which stands with the international pro-life community under the Trump administration, does not look kindly on these efforts to promote abortion.
- On June 2, President Trump signed an Executive Order on Advancing International Religious Freedom, which recognized the promotion of international religious freedom as a moral and national security imperative for the United States.
- On June 12, facing strong opposition from LGBT rights organizations, HHS finalized its regulation that clarifies that discrimination on the basis of sex in section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act is to be interpreted under the plain meaning of the word. Therefore, it does not include “gender identity” or “termination of pregnancy” as set forth by a 2016 Obama administration regulation. The HHS rule will continue to enforce existing civil rights protections; however, it makes clear that the federal government will not force physicians to participate in gender reassignment surgeries or abortions.
- On June 19, the DOJ filed a statement of interest defending the constitutionality of Idaho's Fairness in Women's Sports Act. The Fairness in Women's Sports Act ensures that only biologically female athletes are permitted to compete in female sports. By restricting male athletes from participating, female athletes have a fair shot when competing.
- On June 24, President Trump issued an executive order to strengthen America's foster care and adoption system. Among other things, this action seeks to increase partnerships with faith-based organizations to care for children and preserve families.
- On June 29, the White House released a statement condemning the Supreme Court ruling on June Medical Services v. Russo. This ruling concluded that requiring individuals who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at hospitals is unconstitutional.
- On June 30, the White House released a statement praising the Supreme Court ruling on Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. This ruling is a victory for religious freedom, ensuring that religious schools are not discriminated against in state voucher programs.
- On July 8, HHS Secretary Alex Azar issued a statement celebrating the Supreme Court ruling in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania. The ruling upheld the Trump administration's expansion of religious freedom protections under the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate.
- On July 9, the Treasury Department sanctioned four current or former Chinese government officials and one Chinese g overnment entity for their abuses against the Uyghur Muslim minority in China.
- On July 21, OCR resolved a religious discrimination complaint against the Prince George's Hospital Center of the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS). Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the hospital denied a patient's request to have a Catholic priest visit the hospital to provide spiritual care. OCR worked with the hospital system to revise their visitor's policy to allow religious visitations during the pandemic.
- On July 31, the Treasury Department sanctioned a Chinese paramilitary organization in connection to their human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims in China.
- On August 5, Vice President Mike Pence gave a speech on the importance of protecting life and reaffirmed the administration's pro-life positions. He also became the first vice president to visit a pregnancy resource center – these centers are valuable lifelines that offer abortion-free services for women facing crisis pregnancies.
- On August 17, the State Department, in coordination with other federal agencies, released a second review of President Trump's PLGHA Policy, which requires U.S. global health funds recipients to certify that they will not promote or perform abortions. This report reaffirmed the policy's effectiveness and the U.S. government's ability to simultaneously protect unborn life and promote better health outcomes for women globally.
- On August 18, the Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board—which was convened as a part of President Trump's June 5, 2019 fetal tissue research policy—issued recommendations on the ethics of fetal tissue research proposals. The board recommended against funding 13 of the 14 proposals because of ethical concerns with how fetal tissue from aborted babies would be used. This board will continue to review any new fetal tissue research proposals applying for federal funds.
- On August 20, OCR resolved a civil rights complaint against the state of Utah, helping the state amend their crisis standards of care (CSC) guidelines to ensure the elderly and disabled are not discriminated against when medical resources are scarce. This is now OCR's seventh resolution helping states create CSC plans that value the dignity of all human life.
- On August 25, USAID released its updated Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment Policy with the purpose of “empowering women and girls to participate fully in and equally benefit from the development of their societies.” The updated policy takes into account the biological differences between males and females and recognizes the importance of strengthening “families and communities” to achieving its goal.
And just today, the Trump administration proposed another rule to make it harder to experiment on aborted babies.