As my colleague Ryan T. Anderson and I have argued, it’s time to act to defend innocent human life and make religious freedom great again. President-elect Donald Trump has made encouraging statements regarding these important issues, including:
- “I am committed to nominating pro-life justices to the U.S. Supreme Court.” (Pro-Life Coalition Letter, SBA-List.org) The Heritage Foundation’s John G. Malcolm has pointed out that Trump “will have the opportunity to leave a massive imprint on the federal courts for a generation or more.” Ensuring that the court is comprised of justices who respect the fundamental right to life can be a cornerstone of Trump’s legacy.
- “I will work to support the dignity of human life from conception to natural, dignified death.” (Press Release, DonaldJTrump.com) At the moment of conception, a new and distinct human being comes into existence—someone who has inherent value and possesses a right to life. Every human being should be protected in law and welcomed in life, and Trump has rightly pledged to advocate for these fundamental principles.
- “I am committed to defunding Planned Parenthood as long as they continue to perform abortions, and reallocating their funding to community health centers that provide comprehensive health care for women.” (Pro-Life Coalition Letter, SBA-List.org) The need to end such funding has become even more acute in light of serious and disturbing press coverage of Planned Parenthood representatives discussing the sale of body parts of aborted babies.
- “I am committed to making the Hyde Amendment permanent law to protect taxpayers from having to pay for abortions.” (Pro-Life Coalition Letter, SBA-List.org) By signing legislation that permanently ends taxpayer-funded abortion once and for all, Trump will be standing with the strong majority of Americans—including many who identify as pro-choice—who oppose taxpayer-funded abortions.
- “I am committed to signing into law the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would end painful late-term abortions nationwide.” (Pro-Life Coalition Letter, SBA-List.org) Nearly 8 in 10 Americans support limiting abortion to the first three months of pregnancy, yet the U.S. is one of only seven nations that allow late-term abortions for any reason.
- “If I am elected president and Congress passes the First Amendment Defense Act, I will sign it to protect the deeply held religious beliefs … of Americans of all faiths.” (Press Release, DonaldJTrump.com) The First Amendment Defense Act prevents the federal government from discriminating against individuals and institutions that follow their beliefs about marriage and what it entails. By signing this act, Trump can ensure that the principles of tolerance and religious freedom apply to both sides of the marriage debate.
- “If Congress considers legislation such as … the Conscience Protection Act a priority, then I will do all I can to make sure it comes to my desk for signature and enactment.” (Trump letter to CatholicVote.org) The Conscience Protection Act ensures that individuals get their day in court when their rights to conscience concerning abortion are violated by the government. Americans should be free to provide, find, or offer health care and health insurance coverage that aligns with their values.
- “[The Johnson Amendment], pushed by Lyndon Johnson many years ago, threatens religious institutions with a loss of their tax-exempt status if they openly advocate their political views. Their voice has been taken away. I am going to work very hard to repeal that language and to protect free speech for all Americans.” (Trump acceptance speech, Republican National Convention) My colleague Roger Severino has previously told The Daily Signal that “the Johnson Amendment was never intended to muzzle religious organizations. Preachers should not face IRS investigations and punishment for speaking to their congregations about their faith, whether or not it touches on the politics of the day.” A bill such as the Free Speech Fairness Act would protect pastors from the IRS.
Trump has also pledged to rescind “every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum, and order issued by President [Barack] Obama” (Trump’s Contract with the American Voter). The Obama administration has aggressively pursued a radical agenda to unilaterally redefine “sex” to mean “gender identity,” which threatens freedom of conscience, privacy, and religious liberty.
While on the campaign trail, The Washington Post reported that Trump vowed to rescind the Obama administration’s transgender directives. This means that as president, Trump will:
- Instruct the Department of Justice and Department of Education to rescind guidance that declared a student’s gender identity be treated as the student’s sex for purposes of enforcing Title IX of the Education Amendments. When Congress passed Title IX to address discrimination on the basis of sex in 1972, “sex” did not mean “gender identity”—and it doesn’t mean gender identity now, either. But the Obama administration has essentially rewritten federal law to require access to intimate facilities, dorms, and sports programs to students based not on biology but on self-declared gender identity.
- Instruct the Department of Health and Human Services to undo Obamacare regulations that, similar to the Department of Education and the Department of Justice, redefine “sex” to mean “gender identity.” Anderson, my colleague, has previously written about how “these regulations will penalize medical professionals and health care organizations that, as a matter of faith, moral conviction, or professional medical judgment, believe that maleness and femaleness are biological realities to be respected and affirmed, not altered or treated as diseases.”
Although Trump initially expressed some misgivings about North Carolina’s H.B. 2, which restored fundamental privacy norms to bathrooms in government and public school facilities, his more recent statements about North Carolina show that he believes states are in a better position to address these matters:
I’m going with the state. The state, they know what’s going on, they see what’s happening, and generally speaking, I’m with the state on things like this.
Instead of imposing a top-down policy on the entire country, Trump can ensure that the executive branch respects the principles of federalism and local control.
It’s not surprising that based on his various pledges, many Americans are excited about Trump’s prospects for defending life, conscience, and religious liberty. Men and women across the country will be closely following his actions in the months to come.