Office of the Press SecretaryFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEJanuary 15, 2019RELIGIOUS FREEDOM DAY, 2019 - - - - - -BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICAA PROCLAMATION On Religious Freedom Day, we celebrate our Nation's long‑standing commitment to freedom of conscience and the freedom to profess one's own faith. The right to religious freedom is innate to the dignity of every human person and is foundational to the pursuit of truth. The Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth shared an experience common to many of America's first settlers: they had fled their home countries to escape religious persecution. Aware of this history, our Nation's Founding Fathers readily understood that a just government must respect the deep yearning for truth and openness to the transcendent that are part of the human spirit. For this reason, from the beginning, our constitutional republic has endeavored to protect a robust understanding of religious freedom. On January 16, 1786, Virginia enacted the Statute for Religious Freedom to protect the right of individual conscience and religious exercise and to prohibit the compulsory support of any church. Authored by Thomas Jefferson, the statute set forth the principle that religious liberty is an inherent right and not a gift of the state. Jefferson's statute served as the inspiration and model for the legal architecture of the conscience protections in the First Amendment, drafted by James Madison just a few years later. Unfortunately, the fundamental human right to religious freedom is under attack. Efforts to circumscribe religious freedom -- or to separate it from adjoining civil liberties, like property rights or free speech -- are on the rise. Over time, legislative and political attacks on religious freedom have given way to actual violence. Last October, we witnessed a horrific attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania -- the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in our Nation's history. Tragically, attacks on people of faith and their houses of worship have increased in frequency in recent years. My Administration is taking action to protect religious liberty and to seek justice against those who seek to abridge it. The Department of Justice is aggressively prosecuting those who use violence or threats to interfere with the religious freedom of their fellow Americans. In January of 2018, the Justice Department announced a religious liberty update to the Justice Manual, raising the profile of religious liberty cases. Also in January of 2018, the Department of Health and Human Services undertook major policy changes to protect religious freedom, including forming a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within the Department's Office for Civil Rights and proposing a comprehensive new conscience protection regulation to reinvigorate enforcement of religious freedom laws within existing health care programs. Around the globe today, people are being persecuted for their faith by authoritarian dictatorships, terrorist groups, and other intolerant individuals. To address this tragic reality, last July, at my request, the Secretary of State convened the first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. We are listening to the voices of those risking their lives for their religious beliefs, and we are listening to the families of people who have died fighting for their fundamental right of conscience. Our Nation was founded on the premise that a just government abides by the "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God." As the Founders recognized, the Constitution protects religious freedom to secure the rights endowed to man by his very nature. On this day, we recognize this history and affirm our commitment to the preservation of religious freedom. NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 16, 2019, as Religious Freedom Day. I call on all Americans to commemorate this day with events and activities that remind us of our shared heritage of religious liberty and that teach us how to secure this blessing both at home and around the world. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand nineteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-third.DONALD J. TRUMP###The White House · 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW · Washington, DC 20500-0003 · USA · 202-456-1111Text also available here.SUBSCRIBE TO BLOG: http://freedom2care.org/rss/newsroom.asp
On Jan. 3, the House passed H.R. 21, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019 by a vote of 241 - 190. 234 Democratic Members and 7 Republican Members (Fitzpatrick, Hurd, Katko, King (NY), Stefanik, Upton, Walden) voted in support of the bill. 190 Republicans voted against the bill. 2 Members did not vote.H.R. 21 reverses Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance (PLGHA) (expanded Mexico City Policy), requiring foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) receiving global health assistance grant money to not perform or actively promote abortion. It appropriates not less than $37.5 million for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and it appropriates not less than $595 million for international family planning/reproductive health programs.Republicans offered a Motion to Recommit (MTR) on H.R. 21. The MTR (attached) would have reinstated PLGHA, and it would have stricken funding for UNFPA. The MTR failed by a vote of 199 – 232. 197 Republicans and 2 Democrats (Lipinski, Peterson) voted in support of the MTR. 232 Democrats voted against the MTR. 2 Members did not vote.Below are statements from Members during tonight’s floor debate on H.R. 21 and the MTR:Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC)Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD)Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO)Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO)Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA)Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN)Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-TX) offers pro-life MTRRep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) defends pro-life MTRSUBSCRIBE TO BLOG: http://freedom2care.org/rss/newsroom.asp
Drastic? "The Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth...."Photo by Kira auf der Heide on UnsplashThe New York Times recently published apparently leaked information about plans at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to adjust a 2016 transgender mandate. The adjustment involves reverting to the original Congressional statutory meaning of "sex discrimination" as discrimination based on biological sex. Under the hyperbolical headline, "Transgender’ Could Be Defined Out of Existence Under Trump Administration," the "news" story in the Times opined, "The Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, the most drastic move yet in a government-wide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law."A TIME magazine article quoted Diana Flynn, litigation director for Lambda Legal: "If this administration wants to try and turn back the clock by moving ahead with its own legally frivolous and scientifically unsupportable definition of sex, we will be there to meet that challenge."The supposedly radical and "legally frivolous and scientifically unsupportable definition of sex" that LGBT activists are protesting and HHS is considering is this: Male and female sex are biological facts determined by chromosomes.Following the incendiary tone of the Times, the Associated Press headlined its story, "Fury Over Reported Federal Plan Targeting Transgender People." The AP wrote that "LGBT leaders across the U.S. reacted with fury" and reported that "activist leaders, speaking amid posters reading '#Won'tBeErased', later addressed a protest rally outside the White House."The rhetoric of activists and their media allies exceeds hyperbole. HHS is not remotely capable or desirous of defining anyone out of existence. HHS is simply bound to follow the law as it is written by Congress--not as imagined or wished by activists and ideologues. To that end, HHS has been working on a new rule to correct a radical regulatory overreach involving a radical misconstrual of the clear intent of Congress in laws concerning "sex discrimination." Prodding that correction is a December 31, 2016 federal court ruling in favor of the Christian Medical Association and others, including five states, who had sued HHS to halt an Obama transgender mandate regulation that violated both medical judgment and religious freedom.Leapfrogging a political agenda over science and religionThe previous administration asserted that by "sex discrimination" Congress must have meant something well beyond biologically male and female.Photo by Kevin Gent on UnsplashIn the waning weeks of their power, the previous administration threw caution and medical research to the wind with a reckless regulation that leapfrogged a political agenda over sound science. Were it not for the federal court's preliminary injunction, doctors and health organizations nationwide today would be forced to comply with a coercive transgender mandate.In May 2016, HHS issued a new rulethat would require physicians and hospitals to perform potentially harmful transgender medical procedures whether or not those procedures fulfilled patients’ best interests according to medical judgment.To arrive at that conclusion, first the administration reinterpreted decades-old law prohibiting sex discrimination (such as in boys' versus girls' sports in schools) as applying to "gender identity issues." Congress, however, had given no evidence when passing the anti-discrimination law of envisioning any such radical application. Having redefined the law to suit an ideological agenda, HHS officials then moved to eliminate doctors’ medical judgment, requiring every health professional and institution to perform potentially harmful transgender medical procedures do or else be deemed guilty of “discrimination” and subject to face serious penalties.Ideology trumps freedom of conscience and speechHHS: "A covered entity may not deny or limit health services."Photo by Piron Guillaume on UnsplashNot satisfied with mandating that health professionals violate their medical judgment, HHS officials went a step further, dictating even the speech of health professionals: "For example, a provider’s persistent and intentional refusal to use a transgender individual’s preferred name and pronounand insistence on using those corresponding to the individual’s sex assigned at birth constitutes illegal sex discrimination if such conduct is sufficiently serious to create a hostile environment" [emphasis added].Other examples of the coercive nature of the new rule, quoted from the text of the regulation and accompanying commentary by HHS officials, include (emphases in italics are added and my comments are bracketed):· "…a covered entity may not deny or limit health services [e.g., hormone treatments or hysterectomies] that are ordinarily or exclusively available to individuals of one sex, to a transgender individual based on the fact that the individual's sex assigned at birth, gender identity, or gender otherwise recorded is different from the one to which such health services are ordinarily or exclusively available."· "We believe that it is important to ensure that civil rights protections are extended to transgender individuals to afford them equal access to health coverage, including for health services related to gender transition."· "…an exclusion or limitation [that] systematically denies services and treatments for transgender individuals is prohibited discrimination" [e.g., a policy declining to do transgender surgeries on children].Rule ignores research-based medical cautionFrom a medical perspective, the brash new rule flew in the face of the administration's own medical board which, based upon medical research, had advised againstrequiring coverage of gender transition surgical procedures under Medicare and Medicaid. As reported in connection with the Christian Medical Association's successful lawsuit to stop the transgender mandate, Along with physical impacts like heart conditions, increased cancer risk, and loss of bone density, the peer-reviewed longitudinal studies of children with gender dysphoria (that HHS accepted as valid) found that fewer than 1-in-4 children referred for gender dysphoria continued to experience that condition into adulthood. Some grew out of it, but many of the children ended up realizing that they were not transgender but instead gay or lesbian.Prioritizing ideology precludes reasonable accommodation of dissent"[We] decline to adopt a blanket religious exemption...."HHS officials refused pleas by faith-based organizations, submitted during the rule's public comment period, for specific religious freedom exemptions from the transgender mandate:"[We] decline to adopt a blanket religious exemption in the final rule as any religious concerns are appropriately addressed pursuant to pre-existing laws such as RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] and provider conscience laws."Existing law is only as good as its enforcement. Unfortunately, victims of illegal discrimination because of their religious beliefs could only depend for relief upon the Office of Civil Rights at HHS—the very agency that declined to provide explicit religious freedom exemptions.Court intervenes on behalf of Christian Medical Association and othersFaced with a frontal assault on the conscience freedoms and medical judgment of its over 19,000 members, the nonprofit Christian Medical Association teamed up with the Franciscan Alliance health organization and the states of Texas, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Kentucky and Kansas to file suit in federal court to stop the madness. Becket, which successfully defended the Little Sisters of the Poor in a landmark Supreme Court case against the Obamacare contraceptives mandate, represented the health organizations in federal court.CMA court case ruling: "Congress intended to prohibit sex discrimination on the basis of the biological differences between males and females."Thankfully, the federal court agreed with the plaintiffs and intervened to issue a preliminary nationwide injunction to stop implementation of the mandate. In his ruling handed down on December 31, 2016, U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor observed,"[The Christian Medical Association's] approved Ethics Statement affirms the 'obligation of Christian healthcare professionals to care for patients struggling with gender identity with sensitivity and compassion' but states clear opposition to medical assistance with gender transition and abortion. CMA members treat transgender individuals for health issues ranging from the common cold to cancer, and several members have already received requests for transition-related procedures that they cannot provide without violating their religious beliefs."Judge O'Connor also addressed the issue of expanding Congress's intent for the statutory (Title IX) definition of "sex discrimination":"It is also clear from Title IX’s text, structure, and purpose that Congress intended to prohibit sex discrimination on the basis of the biological differences between males and females."The federal court concluded that "the Rule imposes a substantial burden on Private Plaintiffs’ religious exercise," noting that under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, "the government bears the burden to show the Rule satisfies strict scrutiny—i.e., 'demonstrate that the application of the burden to the person represents the least restrictive means of advancing a compelling interest.'"The court ruled in favor of CMA and the other plaintiffs and issued a nationwide preliminary injunction to stop the coercive transgender mandate:"Defendants [HHS] are hereby enjoined from enforcing the Rule’s prohibition against discrimination on the basis of gender identity or termination of pregnancy."Since that decision, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has assured the court and plaintiffs that it is working to amend the Obama administration's rule that triggered the lawsuit. Publication of a new rule is considered imminent. End Notes ‘Transgender’ Could Be Defined Out of Existence Under Trump Administration," New York Times, October 21, 2018. "'I'm Protecting Everybody,' President Trump Says After Reports His Administration Wants to Strip Transgender Protections," TIME magazine, October 22, 2018. Accessed online November 1, 2018 at http://time.com/5431443/donald-trump-transgender-protections/. "Fury Over Reported Federal Plan Targeting Transgender People," The Associated Press, October. 22, 2018. Accessed online October 24, 2018 at https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2018/10/22/us/politics/ap-us-transgender-rights-.html.  "Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities Proposed Rule, Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act," U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, May 18, 2016. Accessed online September 4, 2018 at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/05/18/2016-11458/nondiscrimination-in-health-programs-and-activities.  Department of Health and Human Services, p. 31406. www.transgendermandate.org, Becket Law, accessed August 17, 2018. "Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities," Department of Health and Human Services, 45 CFR Part 92 RIN 0945–AA02, p. 31435. See "Court strikes down harmful transgender mandate," Becket Law, https://www.becketlaw.org/media/court-strikes-harmful-transgender-mandate/. Accessed August 17, 2018.SUBSCRIBE TO BLOG: http://freedom2care.org/rss/newsroom.asp
At this point, any Senate hearing on sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh appears much less likely to illuminate the actual truth about alleged events than to illuminate the political, ideological and even the gender-based biases and agendas of senators.What has been highlighted in this agonizing process, unfortunately, is how little so many people in Congress and in this country seem to care about the rule of law ... or reasoned and civil debate ... or true justice.True justice does not allow automatically favoring the testimony of one gender over another. That's bald-faced bias, bigotry, discrimination. Unfortunately, allegations rather than convictions of sexual assault have become fodder for building awareness about sexual assault in society at large. Legitimate awareness-building requires real evidence and proven cases, and it is undermined rather than advanced by aggressive assertions about unproven allegations.The answer to sexual assault is not wholesale misandry. Sexual assault is indeed a deplorable crime, yet the crime is not limited to men against women. A study reported in Scientific American , found that "the CDC’s [Centers for Disease Control] nationally representative data revealed that over one year, men and women were equally likely to experience non-consensual sex, and most male victims reported female perpetrators."The fact that men also experience sexual assault in no way minimizes the fact that women experience sexual assault. But the surprising finding does remind us of the importance of basing our conclusions on evidence rather than on perception, on reason rather than feelings, on reality rather than ideology. If this republic is to continue and real justice is to be realized, we've got to get back to reasoned and civil debate and most importantly, to the rule of law. That means discerning and separating evidence from allegation, fact from fiction, and--perhaps most difficult of all--what we wish from what actually is.---1. Lara Stemple, Ilan H. Meyer,"Sexual Victimization by Women Is More Common Than Previously Known," Scientific American, October 10, 2017. Accessed online September 24, 2018 at https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/sexual-victimization-by-women-is-more-common-than-previously-known/ .SUBSCRIBE TO BLOG: http://freedom2care.org/rss/newsroom.asp
CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens: "Taxpayers want their money to support healthcare, and abortion is not healthcare."
Washington, DC—May 18, 2018
--The 19,000-member Christian Medical Association (CMA, www.cmda.org
) today expressed support for administration plans to disentangle taxpayer funds from abortion as a method of family planning.
CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens noted, "Taxpayers want their money to support healthcare, and abortion is not healthcare.
"The 'Protect Life Rule' proposed today should go a long way to ensuring that our tax dollars are not illegally propping up the abortion industry. Planned Parenthood is a billion-dollar industry that gets half a billion of our tax dollars and performs nearly a third of a million abortions per year, according to its own annual reports.
"Importantly, the new proposal also is expected to stop mandated referrals for abortions. Most pro-life physicians such as our members cannot refer for abortion, because of conscience and because abortion violates longstanding medical ethics such as the Hippocratic oath.
"True healthcare promotes health, healing and comfort. Abortion doesn’t maintain or improve the health of the mother or unborn child. Even in rare cases when a pregnant woman for health reasons may need her baby delivered early, it should never be done with the intent to kill her child."
"These tax dollars can go to many fine community and rural healthcare centers, which far outnumber the Planned Parenthood abortion clinics and provide a vast array of quality, non-controversial and life-affirming healthcare services."
Congress authorized the Title X program in 1970 to provide family planning services to low income women. The authorizing statute
drew a bright line of separation between family planning and abortion: “None of the funds appropriated under this subchapter shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”
Current regulations in place since the Clinton administration require Title X grantees to refer pregnant women for abortion, and Title X grantees may be located in the same location as an abortion clinic. Title X is Planned Parenthood’s second-largest stream of federal funding. A 2018 GAO report indicated that Planned Parenthood receives approximately $56 million taxpayer dollars through Title X alone annually. Today, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) posted a notice that it is reviewing a proposed rule governing the “statutory program integrity requirements” of the Title X family planning program. The text of the proposed rule is not yet available but reportedly requires a bright line of physical as well as financial separation between Title X programs and any program (or facility) where abortion is performed, supported, or referred for as a method of family planning.