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Trump admin issues rules protecting conscience rights against abortion, contraception insurance

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WASHINGTON, D.C., November 8, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Trump administration announced Wednesday the release of two final rules to protect Americans from being forced to subsidize abortion in government-mandated health insurance plans.

Interim versions of the rules were released last year, according to a press release from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). They create an exemption from Obamacare’s mandate that employer-provided health insurance plans cover various types of contraception, including methods that function by killing an already-conceived embryonic human.

One of the rules covers conscience objections on the basis of “sincerely held religious beliefs,” while the other protects small businesses and nonprofits with non-religious moral objections. The exemptions do not extend to government entities. The religious exemption extends to publicly-traded businesses, but the non-religious exemption does not.

An accompanying fact sheet explains that the new rules also protect churches, integrated auxiliaries, religious orders, non-governmental educational institutions, various other types of non-governmental employees with religious objections, health insurance issuers that serve exempted individuals or plan sponsors, and individuals covered by either employer-based insurance or individual plans.

Also on Wednesday, HHS proposed a rule requiring Obamacare plans that cover abortion to send customers a separate invoice for the abortion portion of their monthly premiums, Bloomberg reports.  

The news follows the Republican Party losing its majority in the House of Representatives in Tuesday’s midterm elections. While the GOP grew its Senate majority, with only one chamber of Congress it cannot send Trump any legislation to fully repeal Obamacare or defund abortion groups like Planned Parenthood, and such objectives are unlikely to be addressed through the budget process.

The president teased Wednesday that he has a “solution” that “nobody else does” on how to handle abortion in a split Congress, but offered no details because “it is an issue that is a very divisive, polarizing issue.”

“I'm just going to push, I've been pushing,” he promised in response to a question about continuing to advance the pro-life agenda over the next two years. Barring the advent of some as-yet unknown legislative gambit, regulation changes and new judges will be critical to that push.

“March for Life applauds the Trump Administration’s final rule released this afternoon, ‘Moral Exemptions and Accommodations for Coverage of Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act,’” March for Life president Jeanne Mancini said in response to the new rules.

“Pro-life organizations should not be forced into betraying the very values they were established to advance and this rule will allow such freedom,” she continued. “March for Life bases its pro-life beliefs on ethics and science; the government has no right to demand that organizations provide health insurance plan options that explicitly contradict their mission; it is un-American.”

HHS expects the exemptions to affect “no more than approximately 200 employers with religious or moral objections,” and said they will take effect 60 days after being published in the Federal Register.

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