The Health and Human Services Department under President Donald Trump continues shifting decidedly toward policies championed by the conservative Christian community, including a potential move to declare that life begins at conception.
Head of the Office of Civil Rights, Roger Severino, and director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Shannon Royce, are two of the “small cadre” of top officials within the HHS department championing attempts to roll back federal protections of abortion and care for transgender people, Politico reported Monday morning.
Severino, who is an anti-abortion lawyer, recently proposed a rule change that would sanction refusal of care by individuals in the medical realm who stand opposed to abortion and transgender people.
The potential “conscience rights” rule, still under review by the Trump administration, would protect health care workers who believe their religious beliefs faced discrimination.
At the same time, Royce is moving toward anti-abortion and anti-transgender rule changes as well:
According to Politico, Royce, reportedly without telling her staff, led an outreach program to religious and faith-based organizations on “how it may best identify and remove regulatory or other barriers in order for these institutions to participate in HHS-funded or regulated programs, strengthen partnerships with faith-based organizations to improve service delivery to the American people…” to make sure those groups were not “excluded from publicly funded or conducted programs or activities.”
Trump has also indicated a shift in ideology as it pertains to abortion, telling attendees of the March for Life that he is no longer pro-choice:
The report on such potential rule changes in HHS follows President Donald Trump’s speech Friday to the March for Life in Washington, D.C. Trump addressed the National Mall crowd from the White House’s Rose Garden, and stated his position on the issue of abortion had evolved. Well before he entered politics, Trump stated he was “very pro-choice.”
"They asked me a question as to pro-life or -choice,” the president said. “And I said … that I hate the concept of abortion. I hate the concept of abortion. And then since then, I've very much evolved."