1. In the wake of the unprecedented leak of the draft Dobbs decision on May 2, 2022, lawmakers have begun calling to end the filibuster so that Congress can vote to codify Roe into federal law. The Senate failed to pass a procedural vote on February 28, 2022, on the Women’s Health Protection Act—a bill that would have codified abortion rights into federal law. The bill failed to advance after the Senate voted 46-48 to block the bill, with Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) joining Senate Republicans in opposing it.
2. The Senate narrowly rejected on April 27, 2022, Senator Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) joint resolution under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to overturn the Biden administration’s 2021 Final Rule on the Title X Family Planning Program. Biden’s final rule reversed the Trump administration’s 2019 ban on federal funding to entities that provide abortion referrals to pregnant mothers.
3. The House passed H.R. 496, the Ukraine Religious Freedom Support Act, on April 27, 2022, which was introduced by Representatives Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO) and Joe Wilson (R-SC).
The legislation would require the U.S. State Department to take Russian violations of religious liberty in Ukrainian territory into consideration during its annual review of religious freedom in Russia, required by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1988. If the Department determines that Russia is a country of particular concern for religious freedom, the President may take additional actions against the Russian government.
The Executive Branch
1. CNN noted on May 3, 2022, that the Biden administration has been “working for months” in preparation for the expected decision by the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade by meeting with state lawmakers to solicit ideas that include possible executive action that could make it easier for women to travel across state lines to have abortions and expanding access to medicated abortions through the mail. Advocates also suggested leasing federal land for abortion clinics to bypass state laws that protect children still in the womb.
2. In the face of coordinated opposition, HHS walked back on April 28, 2022, insurance requirements related to gender-affirming care in a final rule entitled, “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; HHS Notice of Benefit and Payment.”
HHS explained its about-face by noting that “it would be most prudent to address the nondiscrimination proposals related to sexual orientation and gender identity . . . at a later time, to ensure that they are consistent with the policies and requirements that will be included in the [upcoming] section 1557 rulemaking.”
Accordingly, HHS said it would not respond to public comments that questioned the proposed rule’s requirements that individual market and small group plans cover, for example, puberty blockers for children, lifetime cross-sex hormones, genital and non-genital surgical procedures, among other medical interventions.
3. Biden’s DOJ filed a complaint on April 29, 2022, challenging the constitutionality of Alabama law S.B. 184, which prohibits a person from harming a minor by prescribing puberty blockers, hormones, performing surgeries that sterilize, or removing healthy body parts from the minor.
The law also prohibits school officials from withholding information from parents or encouraging or coercing a minor to withhold from parents the fact that the minor’s perception of his or her gender is inconsistent with the minor’s sex.
4. USAID reportedly sent millions of taxpayer dollars to pro-abortion organizations under the guise of COVID-19 relief funds in July 2020. One grant request alleged that evidence from previous outbreaks indicates that “sexual and reproductive health services” are scaled back during such emergencies, which “can result in an increased risk of maternal mortality [and] unintended pregnancies.”
With its COVID-19 relief funds, the organization deployed hundreds of health care workers to Ethiopia to promote birth control and perform abortions at U.S. taxpayers’ expense. Currently USAID has pledged over $9 billion in global COVID relief programs.
5. The Department of Veterans Affairs announced its intention to publish a proposed rule in July 2022 to revise its medical regulations to expand coverage of “surgical interventions for gender transition.” The VA lists its proposed rule as not economically significant.
6. The Department of Labor (DOL) issued a notification of interpretation on April 7, 2022, informing the public that DOL will interpret the prohibition on discrimination on the basis of sex that is codified in Section 188 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. DOL already interprets Section 188’s nondiscrimination provisions to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity. This interpretation will guide DOL’s Civil Rights Center in processing complaints and conducting investigations and compliance reviews.
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