GOP lawmakers: HHS works “on order of abortion lobby” | Politics News

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Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks before the Department of Justice on April 21, 2021 in Washington, DC |

More than 80 members of the United States Congress signed a letter concluding the Biden administration broke the law by dropping a lawsuit on behalf of a pro-life nurse forced to participate in the practice of an abortion in violation of federal laws on consciousness.

A coalition of 21 senators and 63 members of the US House of Representatives, all Republicans, signed a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra last Wednesday.

They opposed the administration’s decision last month to file a lawsuit filed by the Trump administration against the University of Vermont Medical Center on behalf of a pro-life nurse who claims she was coerced into assisting with an abortion despite federal laws that protect the conscientious rights of workers in the health. Additionally, the HHS dropped a 2019 violation notice filed against the hospital.

Lawmakers called the administration’s handling of the case a “deep miscarriage of justice.” .

“Your actions are a signal to employers across the country that they don’t need to comply with the law because your agencies won’t enforce it,” they added. “They also report that this administration would rather violate the conscience at the request of the abortion lobby [than] uphold the law and protect religious freedom.

The letter is signed by Sens. Tom Cotton from Arkansas, James Lankford from Oklahoma, Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee, Ted Cruz from Texas, Mike Lee from Utah, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott from Florida, and others.

On the House side, the letter was signed by Minority Parliamentary Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, Representative Chris Smith of New Jersey, Andy Harris of Maryland, among others.

The letter was also supported by several advocacy groups, including the American Center for Law and Justice, the Center for Ethics and Public Policy, the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics and Religious Freedom Commission, and the Christian medical and dental associations.

As previously reported, the HHS Civil Rights Office filed a lawsuit against the University of Vermont Medical Center late last year, in the final months of the Trump administration.

The department alleged that “the hospital in fact misled the nurse into believing that she had to attend another procedure … uncontested.”

“It wasn’t until she got into the operating room that the abortion doctor turned to her and said, ‘Please don’t hate me for this.'”

According to Claire Murray, who served as a senior assistant attorney general in the Justice Department during the Trump administration, the nurse at the center of the trial was included on the hospital’s list of conscientious objectors to abortion.

It is alleged that the doctor who performed the abortion knew the nurse was on the list. Even though nurses who were not on the list were available to assist with the abortion, the pro-life nurse was still forced to participate.

The Trump administration previously sent UVMMC a notice of violation and filed a complaint after the institution “refused to comply with federal law,” lawmakers note.

The letter from Congress echoed the Trump administration’s claim that medical school broke the law by violating Church amendments.

The Church Amendments “prohibit recipients of HHS grants from discriminating against health workers who have refused to perform or assist in the execution of … [an] abortion on the grounds that its performance or assistance in the performance of the procedure or the abortion would be contrary to his religious beliefs or moral convictions.

The changes allow health officials to “refuse to participate in abortions without fear of adverse employment measures or loss of staff privileges.”

Since the UVMMC receives grants from the HHS, lawmakers have argued that the institution must comply with Church amendments. The lawsuit argues that the medical center developed a model to force healthcare workers to participate in abortions even if they have moral and religious objections to the procedure.

Republican lawmakers lamented that the Biden administration turned the tide.

“The DOJ in fact voluntarily dismissed the case on Friday, July 30, 2021, without any binding regulations or requirement that the UVMMC remedy its illegal policies or return, or even recognize, the nurse whose rights it violated,” affirms the letter. “Furthermore, you have withdrawn this lawsuit knowing that there are no further legal remedies for victims of discrimination in this case. “

“Although Congress has enacted more than 25 federal conscience laws, courts have failed to find protections like Church Amendments to provide a private right of action to those who have been discriminated against,” said they added.

Lawmakers also accused Becerra of lying to Congress during her confirmation hearings to serve as secretary of the HHS. They recalled how Becerra had pledged to “continue to protect the civil constitutional rights of all Americans, including those involving religion” and “has repeatedly pledged to follow federal law with respect to matters of abortion, religious freedom and the protection of conscience. . “

“The actions of the HHS in this matter directly contradict those assurances,” the letter said.

Members of Congress posed several questions to the presidents of the two agencies and requested answers to their requests by August 27.

One question asked if the HHS would continue to provide federal funding to UVM, which they described as “an unrepentant violator of federal law.”

Lawmakers have asked the administration to explain the reason for dismissing a case “in which a plaintiff was known to have violated federal law and refused to comply with federal law” as well as any “new development” that could have motivated the HHS decision to drop the trial.

They asked the agencies to make public all communications between the administration and the UVMMC which discussed the relevant case and any correspondence with “outside organizations”.

The dismissal of the UVMMC lawsuit is not the first example of action by the Biden administration seen as hostile to conscience rights.

The HHS has issued a rule requiring medical facilities and health insurance companies to provide or cover sex reassignment surgeries, which their religious beliefs prevent them from doing so in a good conscience.

Last week, a federal judge overturned the warrant as a violation of the Restoration of Religious Freedom Act.

Earlier this year, President Joe Biden submitted a budget request to Congress that did not include the Hyde Amendment. This long-standing measure prevents taxpayer dollars from being used to fund abortions. Its budget request is still subject to Congress approval.

Ryan Foley is a reporter for the Christian Post. He can be contacted at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com


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