Many states already have laws on the books protecting religious freedom for health care decisions, but the new rule will protect providers in states that do not.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a final rule Thursday protecting health care groups and individuals from mandatory provision or participation in services they object to for religious or moral reasons.
The rule promises to “promote and protect the fundamental and unalienable rights of conscience and religious liberty.” The rule protects health care providers from mandatory participation in and payment or referral for services like abortion, sterilization and assisted suicide, according to HHS’s statement.
The administration’s rule also includes protections regarding advanced directives.
“This rule ensures that healthcare entities and professionals won’t be bullied out of the health care field because they decline to participate in actions that violate their conscience, including the taking of human life,” Office for Civil Rights (OCR) Director Roger Severino said in a Thursday statement.