The director of HHS’s Office for Civil Rights, Roger Severino, addressed the National Right to Life Committee’s (NRLC) annual convention in Kansas on Thursday, according to the Wichita Eagle. This is the first time that NRLC President Carole Tobias could remember anyone from HHS speaking at the annual Kansas convention.
During his speech, Severino promised that the Trump administration would continue its fight to protect the lives of preborn babies, while simultaneously working to protect rights of conscience and defend religious freedom protections.
There were two members of the Little Sisters of the Poor who were in attendance, and Severino also spoke about the Trump administrations efforts to protect the Little Sisters of the Poor from being required to fund contraceptives, including abortion inducing drugs.
Severino highlighted the actions thus far by President Trump in defense of religious liberties, such as the nomination of now Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, as well as the Faith and Opportunity Initiative rolled out in early May. Trump said that the new initiative is designed to help religious organizations “strengthen the institutions of civil society and American families and communities.” Other actions viewed favorably by conservatives include Trump declaring a Religious Freedom Day, giving taxpayers relief from paying the Obamacare individual mandate penalty, as well as rolling back the birth control mandate of the so-called “Affordable Care Act” for religious employers.
“Our president is fearless when it comes to life and conscience,” Severino said. “We’re just getting started.” Severino also stressed the importance of conscience protections and allowing people of faith to live according to their sincerely held religious beliefs.
“The leadership at HHS is very committed to protecting unborn children,” Tobias said. “Their willingness to send a representative to talk about conscience protection and to reassure pro-life people that they’re going to work to protect the babies, it was just a nice, very uplifting, very encouraging good message from the administration.”
Before Severino’s address, President Trump sent the convention a letter calling life the “most basic and fundamental human right” and promising to protect “the lives of every American, including the unborn.”
The Department of Health and Human Services’ strategic plan now includes language that says, “A core component of the HHS mission is the dedication to serve all Americans from conception to natural death.”
Roger Severino was appointed by President Trump as Director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights in April of last year. Severino formerly served as the Director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society. As Director, his three main focuses where on religious liberty, marriage, and life issues.