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‘We’re just getting started,’ civil rights chief at Trump HHS tells pro-lifers

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OVERLAND PARK, Kansas, June 29, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — The Trump administration will continue and expand its efforts to advance the pro-life cause, a top official at the Department of Health and Human Services told pro-lifers this week.

Roger Severino, director of HHS’ Office for Civil Rights, addressed the National Right to Life Committee’s (NRLC) annual convention in Kansas on Thursday, the Wichita Eagle reported. NRLC president Carol Tobias said it was the first time she could recall someone from HHS speaking at the event.

“Our president is fearless when it comes to life and conscience,” Severino told the crowd. “We’re just getting started.”

During his speech, he highlighted Trump’s first Supreme Court appointee, Justice Neil Gorsuch, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ religious liberty guidance to federal agencies, and the administration’s work to dismantle the Obama administration contraception mandate.

The Little Sisters of the Poor’s charitable work “was put at stake because government said, ‘Our way or you’re out of business,’” Severino declared. “We’re proud to say that is no longer the case.” Two of the Little Sisters were in attendance Thursday night.

He also relayed the story of a Catholic nurse who was forced to assist with an abortion against her will, saying it “happened in America and it should never happen again.” He promised that “this administration is dedicated to making sure it never happens again.”

Severino joined the administration last year to the delight of pro-family advocates and the scorn of LGBT activists. His previous conservative credentials included directing the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation, and speaking and writing extensively against leftist “gender ideology” and the Obama administration’s promotion of transgenderism in the military.

In January, the HHS civil rights office announced the creation of a division dedicated exclusively to enforcing conscience protection and religious freedom for healthcare workers, particularly as they pertain to “coercion on issues such as abortion and assisted suicide.” Under Severino’s leadership, his agency has also launched investigations into California and Hawaii for forcing pro-life pregnancy centers to promote abortion.

The Wichita Eagle further noted that in the current administration HHS’s strategic plan declares that a “core component” of the department’s mission is the “dedication to serve all Americans from conception to natural death.”

“The leadership at HHS is very committed to protecting unborn children,” Tobias said. “Their willingness to send a representative to talk about conscience protection and to reassure pro-life people that they’re going to work to protect the babies, it was just a nice, very uplifting, very encouraging good message from the administration.”

Before Severino’s address, President Trump sent the convention a letter calling life the “most basic and fundamental human right” and promising to protect “the lives of every American, including the unborn.”

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