White House revises Bush conscience protections

Several legal challenges were launched against the Bush rule in late 2008, and the Obama administration proposed withdrawing it in 2009. Instead, the new rule issued on Friday modifies the Bush rule.

The revised rule retains a provision empowering HHS’s civil rights division to receive, investigate and enforce complaints of discrimination. The Office for Civil Rights will also look to launch an education campaign about the conscience protections.

The National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association criticized the White House for not throwing out the entire rule.

“While this new rule is a welcome improvement, the Administration should have gone further and fully repealed the Bush provisions,” said association CEO Clare Coleman in a statement. “The Bush rule was and is unnecessary. Individual protections for religious and moral objections are already guaranteed by federal law, going back to 1973.”