This story was originally published by the WND News Center.
For many years, the American Center for Law and Justice has fought for religious rights. And civil rights. And conscience rights, under which doctors or pharmacists cannot be forced to provide abortion services. Or transgender mutilations.
But it is opposing a new plan called "Safeguarding the Rights of Conscience as Protected by Federal Statutes," by Joe Biden's Health and Human Services Secretary, Xavier Becerra.
It's because the plan doesn't do what it says it does – as the ardently pro-abortion Becerra has assembled it to actually destroy those conscience rights.
In a new report, the ACLJ explained, "Why would the ACLJ oppose anything that purports to safeguard the rights of conscience? After all, the ACLJ has previously submitted comments with HHS in support of rules protecting conscience rights. It has filed numerous lawsuits in support of the conscience rights, such as on behalf of the Philadelphia pediatrician who was fired for refusing to dispense emergency contraception and business owners who didn’t want to kowtow to the HHS abortion pill mandate. The ACLJ submitted amicus briefs with the Supreme Court in support of a rule protecting the religious and moral convictions of religious groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor."
But, the expert legal team explained, "The reason the ACLJ has filed comments objecting to 'Safeguarding the Rights of Conscience as Protected by Federal Statutes' is because the proposed rule does nothing of the sort."
The new wording was proposed just a few months ago, but because it came from Becerra, "one didn’t need to begin reading the rule’s bureaucratic gobbledygook to know what it was going to say," the report said.
"HHS is under the leadership of Secretary Xavier Becerra, the most pro-abortion ideologue ever to hold that position. As a congressman for 24 years, Becerra had a 100% rating on his voting record from Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America. He advocated for partial-birth abortion, voted in support of expanding human embryonic stem cell research, and promoted taxpayer-funded abortions," the ACLJ said.
He even lined up against the ACLJ in the LivingWell Medical Clinic v. Becerra, when he failed to defend a California law demanding that pro-life pregnancy centers promote abortions.
"The Supreme Court ultimately held that the law violated the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment," the report said.
Further, Becerra "led the charge to have a moral and religious exemption from complying with the HHS mandate" for abortion to be declared illegal.
He even claimed, when announcing the new rule, that, "No one should be discriminated against because of their religious or moral beliefs, especially when they are seeking or providing care."
It was a conscience rights plan under "the previous administration" that actually earned the ACLJ's support.
The group said then, "Healthcare professionals should not have to abandon their livelihood when forced to participate in a procedure that violates their religious beliefs or moral convictions. By requiring compliance with federal conscience laws, and authorizing investigations for failure to comply, the rule provides a critical mechanism by which the anti-discrimination provisions of these laws can be effectively enforced, thus ensuring the full protection of conscience rights in the healthcare arena."
Becerra, "unsurprisingly," "changes all that."
Its comments to the federal government warn that Becerra, among other things, is demanding to eliminate the purpose of the rule, delete the definitions of key terms, and explode "assurance and certification of compliance requirements."
Absurdly, the report explains, Becerra claims that the new changes are needed because "courts" have invalidated the previous statement. However, those comments come from the lowest level, district courts, whose opinions hold no precedential value.
"What HHS should have done in the face of those adverse district court decisions was to defend vigorously the 2019 Rule on appeal. It didn't do so. Instead, when the Biden administration took the reins of bureaucratic power, it stayed the cases on appeal in the Ninth Circuit and withdrew the appeal in the Second Circuit," the report said.
That effectively indicated the government's "abandonment" of the rule.
"To pretend that Becerra’s proposed rule will 'safeguard the rights of conscience' is not just disingenuous, it’s demeaning to pro-life healthcare professionals who are entitled to have their rights of conscience protected to the furthest extent of the law," the ACLJ explained.