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Photo: Buero Monaco/Getty Images

The Trump administration on Thursday announced new rules to make it easier for religious health care workers to object to providing care and procedures like abortions and sterilization that conflict with their religious or moral beliefs.

Why it matters: This is a top priority for religious conservatives who are closely allied with the Trump administration, which has prioritized expanding religious liberty protections. But critics argue that the administration is giving medical professionals a license to discriminate and that the rule would weaken protections for vulnerable patients, including gay and transgender individuals.

Details: The rule will go into effect in 60 days from its final publication and will be enforced by the HHS' Office of Civil Rights.

  • It mirrors similar efforts by the administration that protect conscience rights in the medical field. Last month, the administration signaled its intention to soon roll back an Obama-era policy extended to transgender patients. That policy has been blocked in the courts.

What they're saying:

"This rule ensures that healthcare entities and professionals won’t be bullied out of the health care field because they decline to participate in actions that violate their conscience, including the taking of human life. Protecting conscience and religious freedom not only fosters greater diversity in healthcare, it’s the law."
Roger Severino, director of HHS' Office of Civil Rights
"[The administration] will stop at nothing to strip patients of the care they deserve. This rule allows anyone from a doctor to a receptionist to entities like hospitals and pharmacies to deny a patient critical – and sometimes lifesaving – care. Personal beliefs should never determine the care a patient receives. This is a vicious and underhanded attack on the health and lives of patients, particularly targeting women and LGBTQ individuals. We will fight against it until all patients get the care they deserve."
Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women's Law Center

Go deeper: Trump administration poised to rescind transgender health protections

Go deeper

Mayors press Biden to adopt progressive immigration agenda

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A coalition of nearly 200 mayors and county executives is challenging Joe Biden and the incoming Congress to adopt a progressive immigration agenda that would give everyone a pathway to citizenship.

Why it matters: The group's goals, set out in a white paper released today, seem to fall slightly to the left of what the president-elect plans to propose on Inauguration Day — though not far — and come at a time of intense national polarization over immigration.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
17 mins ago - Health

Demand for coronavirus vaccines is outstripping supply

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Now that nearly half of the U.S. population could be eligible for coronavirus vaccines, America is facing the problem experts thought we’d have all along: demand for the vaccine is outstripping supply.

Why it matters: The Trump administration’s call for states to open up vaccine access to all Americans 65 and older and adults with pre-existing conditions may have helped massage out some bottlenecks in the distribution process, but it’s also led to a different kind of chaos.

Woman who allegedly stole laptop from Pelosi's office to sell to Russia is arrested

Photo: FBI

A woman accused of breaching the Capitol and planning to sell to Russia a laptop or hard drive she allegedly stole from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office was arrested in Pennsylvania's Middle District Monday, the Department of Justice said.

Driving the news: Riley June Williams, 22, is charged with illegally entering the Capitol as well as violent entry and disorderly conduct. She has not been charged over the laptop allegation and the case remains under investigation, per the DOJ.