Religious Liberty Update on Congressional and Executive Branch Actions
|Sponsors:||Religious Liberties Practice Group|
- On June 16, 2022, Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana and Doug LaMalfa of California introduced the House bill “Protecting Minors from Medical Malpractice Act.” The proposed bill would lengthen the statute of limitations up to 30 years for children who transition as minors and later determine that they were physically, psychologically, emotionally, or physiologically harmed as a result.
On June 22, 2022, Senator Tom Cotton, joined by Senators Daines, Rubio, Hawley, and Lankford, introduced a similar bill in the Senate.
- On June 23, 2022, Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey introduced a proposed senate bill entitled “Stop Anti-Abortion Disinformation Act,” which would direct the Federal Trade Commission to assess fines and possibly file a lawsuit against pregnancy crisis centers for “advertising with the use of deceptive or misleading statements related to the provision of abortion services.”
In a press release, Sen. Menendez’s office stated that crisis pregnancy centers “disseminate inaccurate, misleading, and stigmatizing information about abortion and contraception” and “do not employ licensed medical personnel or provide referrals for birth control or abortion care.”
The Executive Branch
- On June 7, 2022, DHS’s National Terrorism Advisory System issued a domestic terrorism security threat announcement to houses of worship, among other groups.
- Beginning June 8, 2022, the National Institutes of Health seeks public comments on the form it is proposing to use to collect information on its use of human embryonic stem cell lines in NIH funded research.
- On June 21, 2022, President Biden published in the Federal Register his Executive Order entitled, “Advancing Equality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Individuals.” In the EO, the President calls on HHS to clarify that federally funded programs cannot offer “conversion therapy,” and to take steps to “address the barriers and exclusionary policies to health care services.”
- On June 21, 2022, the White House published its Spring 2022 Unified Agenda, which reports planned regulatory activities throughout the federal government.
To see what rules the Biden administration is preparing for publication in the next 12 to 24 months, go to the main Unified Agenda webpage, select a federal agency in the drop down menu, and read about that agency’s list of upcoming rulemakings.
- On June 23, 2022, the U.S. Department of Education published a proposed rule entitled, “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance.” Members of the public are invited to submit comments for 60 days following publication of the NPRM in the Federal Register (expected on or about July 7, 2022). A helpful summary of the proposed rule’s provisions is available here.
- On June 23, 2022, an EEOC religious discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of two grocery store employees survived a motion to dismiss. The grocery store, Kroger, allegedly failed to accommodate two employees who refused to wear the company’s apron featuring a multi-colored rainbow heart logo.
- Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs on June 24, 2022:
- On June 24, 2022, President Biden published a statement in response to the Dobbs decision
- On June 25, 2022, HHS published a press release advertising a website that helps minors obtain abortions without parental consent and includes information about when and how to use abortion pills. HHS also created a website to educate the public about access to birth control and abortion services.
- On June 27, 2022, the HHS Office for Civil Rights published new HIPAA guidance advising that HIPAA permits but does not require a health care provider to disclose a patient’s health information if the provider believes in good faith that the disclosure is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to the health or safety of a person or the public.
- The guidance warns, however, in an example, that HIPAA does not permit a health care provider to inform law enforcement that a pregnant woman intends to travel to another state where abortion is legal to obtain an abortion because “an individual’s intent to get a legal abortion, or any other care tied to pregnancy loss . . . does not qualify as a serious and imminent threat to the health or safety of a person or the public.
- On June 28, 2022, the U.S. Postal Service spokesperson, when asked whether the USPS will conduct any sort of screening to ensure abortion pills do not go to states where they are banned, said, “Federal law and Postal Service regulations determine what can and can’t be mailed.”
- On June 28, 2022, HHS Secretary Becerra published remarks in response to the Dobbs ruling, calling the decision “despicable” and announcing plans to:
- increase access to medication abortion,
- use the authority of the HHS Office for Civil Rights to protect the privacy of patients seeking and providers offering reproductive health care,
- use HHS authority under federal law to support doctors and hospitals exercising clinical judgment to perform abortions necessary “to stabilize patients,”
- ensure that doctors and pharmacists have training and resources to handle family planning needs, and
- direct CMS to protect the availability of emergency contraceptives and long acting reversable contraceptives, such as IUDs.
- On June 30, 2022, HHS’s Office of Population Affairs announced nearly $3 million in new funding for its Title X family planning providers.
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