The risk in a Biden reversal of medical conscience protections

President Biden.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Getty Images, iStock)

"The Biden administration is preparing to scrap a Trump-era rule that allows medical workers to refuse to provide services that conflict with their religious or moral beliefs," Politico reported Tuesday, citing "three people familiar with the deliberations." The exact scope of the prospective update isn't clear, but the Department of Health and Human Services confirmed it's coming.

In one sense, the change is irrelevant. Introduced in 2019, the rule in question would have denied federal funding to health-care organizations that don't allow staff to opt out of participation in abortions, procedures related to gender transition, assisted suicide, and the like. But it was blocked in federal court before it took effect and so has never been implemented. The Biden administration's "change" would merely confirm the status quo. Moreover, cases where health-care workers are forced to perform services they believe to be immoral (or fired for refusing to do so) seem to be relatively rare. They do happen, but most states already have laws on the books providing at least some conscience protections for medical professionals.

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Bonnie Kristian

Bonnie Kristian was a deputy editor and acting editor-in-chief of She is a columnist at Christianity Today and author of Untrustworthy: The Knowledge Crisis Breaking Our Brains, Polluting Our Politics, and Corrupting Christian Community (forthcoming 2022) and A Flexible Faith: Rethinking What It Means to Follow Jesus Today (2018). Her writing has also appeared at Time Magazine, CNN, USA Today, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, and The American Conservative, among other outlets.