New HHS unit to shield health workers under 'religious freedom'

WASHINGTON, Jan 18 (Reuters) - The U.S. government is seeking to further protect the "conscience and religious freedom" of health workers whose beliefs prevent them from carrying out abortions and other procedures, in an effort likely to please conservative Christian activists and other supporters of President Donald Trump.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said on Thursday it will create a division within its Office of Civil Rights to give it "the focus it needs to more vigorously and effectively enforce existing laws protecting the rights of conscience and religious freedom."

Healthcare workers, hospitals with religious affiliations, and medical students among others have been "bullied" by the federal government to provide these services despite existing laws on religious and conscience rights, the top HHS official said.

"The federal government has hounded religious hospitals...forcing them to provide services that violate their consciences," Acting HHS Secretary Eric Hargan said. "Medical students too have learned to do procedures that violate their consciences."

RELATED: The most significant Trump reversals of Obama orders in 2017

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The most significant Trump reversals of Obama orders in 2017
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The most significant Trump reversals of Obama orders in 2017

DEFERRED ACTION FOR CHILDHOOD ARRIVALS (DACA)

Signed in 2012, Obama’s executive order offering legal protections from deportation to children brought into the country by undocumented immigrant parents offered a legal respite for nearly 800,000 people. While it was not a permanent solution, many Republicans in Congress sided with Democrats in the view that children protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program should ultimately be granted U.S. citizenship. But on Sept. 5, 2017,  President Trump put that possibility in doubt. “Make no mistake, we are going to put the interest of AMERICAN CITIZENS FIRST!” Trump tweeted ahead of an announcement by his attorney general that he was rescinding Obama’s action. The matter now rests with Congress.

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

TRANSFER OF SURPLUS MILITARY EQUIPMENT TO LOCAL POLICE

In 2015, in the wake of what some viewed as the outsize police response to the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., Obama issued an order banning the sale of surplus military equipment such as grenade launchers and armored vehicles to local police forces. On Aug. 28, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that Trump was scrapping the restriction “to make it easier to protect yourselves and your communities.”

(Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

NORMALIZING RELATIONS WITH CUBA

Denouncing the Obama administration’s 2014 decision to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba, President Trump announced on June 16, 2017, that he was putting travel and trade restrictions with the island nation back in place. “The previous administration’s easing of restrictions on travel and trade does not help the Cuban people — they only enrich the Cuban regime,” Trump said in a Florida speech.

(A vintage car drives past the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini)

THE PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT

Trump has said he believes that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. His June 1, 2017, decision to walk away from the Paris climate agreement signed by his predecessor ultimately left the United States isolated as the only country in the world not onboard.

(REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen/File Photo)

OFFSHORE AND ARCTIC OIL DRILLING

Making good on the long-held Republican slogan “Drill, baby, drill,” Trump overturned a 2016 Obama executive order banning oil drilling in parts of the Atlantic Ocean and the Arctic.

“This is a great day for American workers and families,” Trump said at a signing ceremony on April 28, 2017. “And today we’re unleashing American energy and clearing the way for thousands and thousands of high-paying American energy jobs.”

(Susanne Miller/US Fish and Wildlife Service/Handout via Reuters) 

NET NEUTRALITY 

Obama’s rules that guaranteed equal access to the internet — aka net neutrality — were enshrined in 2015 with a vote from the Federal Communications Commission. But new FCC commissioners are appointed by whichever president is serving, and when Trump took office he installed new leadership, which voted on Dec. 14 to scrap the policy, opening up the internet to what critics fear will result in a tiered system of information and entertainment.

REUTERS/ Kyle Grillot

THE CLEAN WATER RULE

On Feb. 28, 2017, President Trump began his assault on Obama’s executive order that expanded federal oversight of pollution in the nation’s rivers, streams and lakes. Trump’s first step was to order the EPA to “review and reconsider” the restrictions. Then, in June, the administration officially rolled back the environmental protections for over half of the nation’s tributaries.

(Yellow mine waste water is seen at the entrance to the Gold King Mine in San Juan County, Colorado, in this picture released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) taken August 5, 2015. REUTERS/EPA/Handout/File Photo)

CAPS ON GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS AT POWER PLANTS

Keeping a campaign promise to the coal industry, Trump signed an executive order on March 28, 2017, intended to begin dismantling Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which required power plants to reduce carbon emissions. Trump’s new “Energy Independence” order also reversed a ban on coal leasing on federal lands and loosened restrictions on methane emissions. Several states immediately filed a lawsuit against the administration, claiming the move endangered the health of citizens.

(The coal-fired Castle Gate Power Plant is pictured outside Helper, Utah November 27, 2012. REUTERS/George Frey)

SCOPE OF NATIONAL MONUMENTS

Applauded by industry and decried by environmentalists, Trump signed an executive order on April 26, 2017, that swept away Obama’s use of the 1906 Antiquities Act to protect federal lands from oil drilling, mining and other development. “Today we’re putting the states back in charge,” he said at the signing. In December, the administration announced it would reduce the size of the Obama-created Bears Ears National Monument by 85 percent, and the Bill Clinton-designated Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by 50 percent.

(The moon glows over Indian Creek in the northern portion of Bears Ears National Monument, Utah, U.S., October 29, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen)

BATHROOM PROTECTIONS FOR TRANSGENDER STUDENTS

One month into his term, Trump rescinded an Obama directive that allowed students to use school bathrooms that matched their self-identified gender. Trump’s rationale for the reversal was that states, rather than the federal government, should decide how to handle the question.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten decried the move, telling the Associated Press that it “tells trans kids that it’s OK with the Trump administration and the Department of Education for them to be abused and harassed at school for being trans.”

(Photo via Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

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Some of the services at issue include abortion and euthanasia, according to HHS documents. Politico reported on Wednesday that the protections would extend to care for transgender patients seeking to transition.

Democrats criticized the move as a denial of healthcare for women and others, while legal and medical ethics experts said that such exemptions have legal limits and would be challenged in court.

Democratic Senator Patty Murray said in a statement she was "deeply troubled" by reports of the new division and that "any approach that would deny or delay health care to someone and jeopardize their well being for ideological reasons is unacceptable."

LEGAL AND ETHICAL QUESTIONS

The division would enforce the legal protection and conduct compliance reviews, audits and other enforcement actions to ensure that health care providers are allowing workers with religious or moral objections to opt out.

As the division seeks to back exemptions, it is likely to face legal and ethical challenges.

“There will be challenges to any step along the way for any expansion of religious exceptions,” said Marci Hamilton, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. She said such challenges would be “pretty strong.”

Hamilton said that while courts had frequently upheld religious exemptions in recent years, they have recognized limits. For example, she said, courts have rejected a church’s bid to be exempt from federal marijuana laws, and a Pennsylvania order of nun’s effort to avoid eminent domain.

Professionals take an oath to serve people who are sick, Alta Charo, a professor of law and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin in Madison explained. They are also the only ones licensed to provide those services and must do so without discrimination, she said.

SEE ALSO: McCain rips Trump over threatened 'Fake News Awards': 'Stop attacking the press'

"When the director of the office of civil rights is quoted as saying that 'No physician should have to choose between helping a sick person or following their personal conscience,' the director is simply wrong. That choice was made the moment they became physicians," she said.

It is unclear how broad such exemptions could be.

Asma Uddin, a fellow at the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations and a Muslim, spoke at an HHS press conference about the need for protection against what she said was a variety of ways women are forced to violate their conscience.

For Muslim women, she said, this is an issue in respect to modesty, particularly as patients.

TRUMP ORDER

The creation of the division is in accordance with an executive order signed by Trump last May called "Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty." The order was followed by new rules aimed at removing a legal mandate that health insurance provide contraception.

Several proponents of the changes cited the Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of Roman Catholic nuns which runs care homes for the elderly, which had challenged a legal mandate under Obamacare, the common name for former President Barack Obama's 2010 healthcare law.

In October, HHS introduced rules that would let businesses or non-profit organizations lodge religious or moral objections to obtain an exemption from that mandate that employers provide contraceptives coverage in health insurance with no co-payment.

RELATED: President Trump's controversial first year in office

29 PHOTOS
President Donald Trump's controversial first year
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President Donald Trump's controversial first year
First lady Melania Trump chats with U.S. President Donald Trump during their return from Germany at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S., July 8, 2017. Carlos Barria: "After President Trump's trip to Germany he arrived back at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. First Lady Melania Trump said goodbye to Trump as she was heading off in a different direction that day. While chatting a breeze blew Melania's hair up in the air." REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Senior advisor Kellyanne Conway (L) attends as U.S. President Donald Trump (behind desk) welcomes the leaders of dozens of historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 27, 2017. Jonathan Ernst: "We're often asked how much access we have to the Trump administration, and the answer is we have an awful lot. President Trump himself is very comfortable in the spotlight, and his aides are similarly unfazed by cameras. In this instance, senior advisor Kellyanne Conway was so comfortable in our presence she seemed not to consider the optics of kneeling on a Oval Office sofa to take pictures with her phone." REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Vice President Mike Pence laughs as U.S. President Donald Trump holds a baseball bat as they attend a Made in America product showcase event at the White House in Washington, U.S., July 17, 2017. Carlos Barria: "This summer the White House organized an event to showcase 'Made in America' products. All kinds of exhibitors brought their products as the President and Vice President toured the event. One of the companies was Marucci Sport, a manufacturer of baseball bats based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. As Trump approached a table full of baseball bats, photographers at the event, including me, rushed to get a good angle hoping that he would pick up a bat. As we predicted, he did. He took one and joked around as though he was hitting something hard. The only thing closer to him right there, was the media." REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Donald Trump hold a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 17, 2017. Jonathan Ernst: "Chancellor Merkel made one of the earliest important visits of any U.S. allies to meet Trump in his first months in office. When world leaders give joint news conferences they don't always tend to give each other their full attention - but Merkel watched Trump intently at several key moments, and here seemed particularly rapt." REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
White House Senior adviser Jared Kushner sits behind U.S. President Donald Trump during a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 1, 2017. Kevin Lamarque: "The role of Jared Kushner has gone through a series of changes. He began front and centre as a high profile adviser, but as time has passed and issues surrounding him have surfaced, he has become more of a background figure." REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump reacts as he sits on a truck while he welcomes truckers and CEOs to attend a meeting regarding healthcare at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 23, 2017. Carlos Barria: "The White House organised a listening session with truckers and CEO's of major American companies, regarding healthcare reform. An 18-wheeler tow truck was parked on the South Lawn of the White House and as Trump welcomed the truckers someone invited the him to come and sit in the driver's seat. Trump jumped into the cab and started yelling and pretending to drive - creating one of the most memorable pictures of the year. A lesson learned, always be prepared for the unexpected." REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump welcomes 11-year-old Frank Giaccio as he cuts the Rose Garden grass at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 15, 2017. Carlos Barria: "Working in Washington, covering politics, I struggle with the rigid and tightly controlled images we're asked to take. But once in a while I get to witness a natural, unscripted moment. One morning, we were told the White House Pool would gather by the door of the Rose Garden for a photo opportunity. It was unscheduled so I didn't know what to expect. As it happened, the President was planning to surprise 11-year-old Frank Giaccio, who had written a letter to Trump offering to mow the White House lawn. Giaccio had been invited to work for a day at the White House alongside National Park Service staff. As we waited for Trump, I saw that Giaccio was very focused on this job and not paying much attention to the group of journalists, photographers and cameramen milling around the garden. Suddenly, from the other side of a hedge, wearing his signature, long red tie, President Trump appeared, dropping in as if this were an episode of The Apprentice. He walked towards Giaccio to say hi and pose for a picture. He began shouting to the boy above the noise of the lawnmower, but it was too loud. Giaccio was so focused on his job that he didn't notice Trump. He walked right past, pushing the machine. Trump paused for a second and walked to the end of the lawn to talk to Giaccio, but again, the boy didn't stop mowing. He kept going until his father rushed onto the scene to grab his attention, and he finally stopped to greet Trump. The image of Trump shouting at a kid who is mowing his lawn might have many interpretations in today's politically polarized United States. But for me it was just a kid who loved what he was doing, to the point he almost appeared to ignore the President." REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File photo SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES
Without his protective glasses on, U.S. President Donald Trump looks up towards the solar eclipse while viewing with his wife Melania and son Barron at the White House in Washington, U.S., August 21, 2017. Kevin Lamarque: "On a day when everyone, and I mean everyone, was told not to look at the eclipse without protective glasses, Trump, President of the United States, couldn't help himself." REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping shake hands after making joint statements at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017. Damir Sagolj: "It's one of those "how to make a better or at least different shot when two presidents shake hands several times a day, several days in row". If I'm not mistaken in calculation, presidents Xi Jinping of China and Donald Trump of the U.S. shook their hands at least six times in events I covered during Trump's recent visit to China. I would imagine there were some more handshakes I haven't seen but other photographers did. And they all look similar - two big men, smiling and heartily greeting each other until everyone gets their shot. But then there is always something that can make it special - in this case the background made of U.S. and Chinese flags. They shook hands twice in front of it, and the first time it didn't work for me. The second time I positioned myself lower and centrally, and used the longest lens I have to capture only hands reaching for a handshake." REUTERS/Damir Sagolj/File Photo SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump attend the Liberty Ball in honour of his inauguration in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017. Jonathan Ernst: "What I see when I look at this picture is the end of a very long day, not to mention weeks and months of preparation by many photographers, editors and network experts and the beginning of everything since." REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump poses for a photo as he and first lady Melania Trump help volunteers hand out meals during a visit with flood survivors of Hurricane Harvey at a relief centre in Houston, Texas, U.S., September 2, 2017. Kevin Lamarque: "Trump, eager to deliver the image of a hands-on response to Hurricane Harvey, made this visit to a relief centre and obliged this woman with a selfie as Melania continued to work." REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo Kevin SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A man kneels with a folded U.S. flag as the motorcade of U.S. President Donald Trump passes him after an event at the state fairgrounds in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S., September 27, 2017. Jonathan Ernst: "In the days after his widely commented-upon remarks about some players' kneeling protest in the NFL, President Trump made a day trip to Indiana. People along the motorcade route will often make (sometimes visceral) displays of how they feel about the president. As we drove along, I wondered if someone might kneel. Someone did." REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump throws rolls of paper towels into a crowd of local residents affected by Hurricane Maria as he visits Calgary Chapel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, U.S., October 3, 2017. Jonathan Ernst: "During an afternoon visit to Puerto Rico for President Trump to survey damage from Hurricane Maria and greet some of its victims, Trump made a stop at a church where food and supplies were being distributed. Among the items were paper towels and Trump, apparently caught up in the moment, decided to distribute some of the rolls." REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump boards Air Force One to depart for Vietnam from Beijing Airport in Beijing, China, November 10, 2017. Jonathan Ernst: "There is a Reuters photographer in the tight pool covering the U.S. president for every appearance he makes 365 days a year. This was just one of 32 images of mine that were transmitted on the Reuters wire of President Trump visiting China and Vietnam that day. You never know when a sudden interaction, a gust of wind or a unique facial expression will lead to a striking image that grabs peoples' attention." REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump registers his surprise as he realises other leaders, including Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte and Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, are crossing their arms for the traditional "ASEAN handshake" as he participates in the opening ceremony of the ASEAN Summit in Manila, Philippines, November 13, 2017. Jonathan Ernst: "Having covered a few ASEAN summits, I knew to expect the ASEAN handshake. Not everyone in the room knew to expect the ASEAN handshake. A lot was written about this unscripted moment, and what deeper meaning it might have. The simple truth is that sometimes in life there are unscripted moments." REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at a rally in Huntington, West Virginia, U.S., August 3, 2017. Carlos Barria: "President Trump travelled to Huntington, West Virginia, for one of his usual campaign rallies. While members of his family spoke to the crowd he was waiting under a black curtain to be introduced. Suddenly he walked onto the stage, one of the first frames that I took was of his hand. I set my exposure for the light on the stage hoping to create this dark background and it worked." REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Barack Obama wipes away tears as he delivers his farewell address in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., January 10, 2017. Jonathan Ernst: "In his final days in office, Obama made a visit home to Chicago. As he spoke from the stage to his wife and daughter in the audience, he became emotional when he talked about what they had sacrificed during his time in office. I turned from photographing the Obama women embracing to find him onstage wiping away tears." REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Secret Service agents use a presidential limousine as cover from spraying water as U.S. President Donald Trump lands via Marine One helicopter in New York, U.S., May 4, 2017. Jonathan Ernst: "The best part of any trip to New York City with the sitting U.S. President is the helicopter ride into Manhattan. The ride out at night can be stunning. Here, Secret Service agents protect themselves from the spray from the East River as Trump lands on the helipad." REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski (C) says hello to reporters as he and White House advisors Sebastian Gorka (from L), Omarosa Manigault and Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci accompany President Trump for an event celebrating veterans at AMVETS Post 44 in Struthers, Ohio, U.S., July 25, 2017. Jonathan Ernst: "The most visible person in any White House is naturally the President, followed by the press secretary. But there are also the staff who support them, any one of whom might suddenly jump into public view and be national news for a day or two. For those of us covering the President Trump administration, there seem to be more compelling figures in the West Wing than ever before. It's crucial to know who's who and why they're important. When I raised my camera and back-pedalled ahead of the group to take this image Lewandowski gave me a hello and pointed right into the lens. I liked the photo, but had no idea it would go a little bit viral, especially since Scaramucci, who was the biggest mover and shaker that week, was hidden back in the pack. But I guess the image catches a glimpse of what it's like to be a West Wing staffer on the road." REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump reacts as he arrives at Harrisburg international airport, before attending a rally marking his first 100 days in office in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 29, 2017. Carlos Barria: "President Trump travelled to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to celebrate his hundred days in office with a victory rally. He was in friendly territory as he won with a big difference over his opponent Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania, during the November elections. As usual when the commander-in-chief arrives local residents gather to greet him. This time a small group of military personnel attended the arrival. Surrounded by secret service agents Trump walked from the Air Force One and raised his hand in a sign of victory as the crowd cheered him on." REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump acknowledges the audience after taking the oath of office as his wife Melania (L) and daughter Tiffany watch during inauguration ceremonies swearing in Trump as the 45th president of the United States on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, U.S., January 20, 2017. Jim Bourg: "This photo was shot with one of two remote cameras. The cameras were monitored and triggered remotely and the pictures were transmitted to clients worldwide within minutes of being taken." REUTERS/Jim Bourg/File Photo SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their bilateral meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 7, 2017. Carlos Barria: "On July 7, I witnessed one of the most important meetings of President Trump's first year in office. Trump met Russian President Vladimir Putin during a bilateral meeting at the G20 summit in Germany. The world's eyes were on these two leaders after speculation about Russian interference during the 2016 US elections. We entered the room for less than two minutes, where I took dozens of pictures. But there was this very interesting moment when Trump extended his hand to Putin for a handshake. Putin paused for a second and looked at Trump's hand. That was the picture that I was looking for, a little moment that seemed to say a lot." REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump (L-R), is joined by Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, senior advisor Steve Bannon, Communications Director Sean Spicer and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, as he speaks by phone with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 28, 2017. Jonathan Ernst: "Very early in the Trump administration, weekends were as busy as weekdays. On Trump's second Saturday the official schedule said he would be making private phone calls to a number of world leaders including Russia's Vladimir Putin. I arrived early and, before sitting down at my desk walked up to Press Secretary Sean Spicer's office. He, too, was just taking his coat off. I gingerly made the suggestion that previous administrations had sometimes allowed photos of such phone calls through the Oval Office windows on the colonnade. To my mild shock, he didn't even think about it twice. "We'll do it!" he said. In truth, I really only expected the Putin call, but we were outside the windows multiple times throughout the day as the calls went on." REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump wait the arrival of French President Emmanuel Macron (unseen) before a lunch ahead of a NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. Jonathan Ernst: "One of the best parts of travelling overseas for White House coverage is the chance to see the U.S. president in different environments and (literally) a different light. Here, Trump and his wife came out of the shadows to greet France's President Macron." REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an interview with Reuters in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 27, 2017. Carlos Barria: "A day before President Trump's hundred days in office I was part of the team that interviewed the commander-in-chief in the Oval Office. I was only allowed to photograph Trump during the last five minutes of the interview. The time was very tight so I had to move fast as I had pictures in mind that I wanted to shoot. I walked into the Oval Office and saw that the President had printed maps of the country showing areas in red where he won. I raised my hands holding my camera as high as possible to get the best view of the scene using a 16mm wide angle lens." REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump greets Director of the FBI James Comey as Director of the Secret Service Joseph Clancy (L), watches during the Inaugural Law Enforcement Officers and First Responders Reception in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., January 22, 2017. Joshua Roberts: "I have covered the White House for 16 years and normally either the President or the pool is in position when an event starts. In this case the President was not where anyone expected him to be. In fact, he was almost blocking the door when the pool came in. We had to scramble to find a position without bumping him or the furniture as he greeted and thanked members of law enforcement for their security efforts during the inauguration. Luckily, he greeted FBI Director James Comey a few seconds after the pool had made its way into the room." REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A combination of photos taken at the National Mall shows the crowds attending the inauguration ceremonies to swear in U.S. President Donald Trump at 12:01pm (L) on January 20, 2017 and President Barack Obama sometime between 12:07pm and 12:26pm on January 20, 2009, Washington, U.S. Lucas Jackson: "The assignment was simply to shoot the inauguration from the Washington Monument. To avoid confusion I made sure to transmit crowd pictures while Trump was onstage with the crowd at its peak. Twitter quickly erupted with claims that my images were taken early in the morning or photoshopped to remove attendees. At his first briefing, the President's new press secretary, Sean Spicer, said: "Photographs of the inaugural proceedings were intentionally framed in a way, in one particular tweet, to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall. This was also the first time that fencing and magnetometers went as far back on the Mall, preventing hundreds of thousands of people from being able to access the Mall as quickly as they had in inaugurations past." This was not true. It was a new experience to have the validity of such a straightforward image questioned. After that press conference the picture was everywhere. Later, CNN released an image it took from the portico of the U.S. Capitol as Trump was sworn in. That vantage point is several hundred feet lower than the Washington Monument so the crowd looks bigger than in my picture. A second wave of 'liar' inundated me on Twitter. I ignored the noise but posted a copy of my image on Instagram with the caption: "Perspective; it matters." Later people noticed that the clock on the Smithsonian building in my picture shows the time at 1:15. Social media tried to claim my images were taken over an hour after the inauguration once the crowd had thinned. But the Smithsonian said its clock was broken and was stuck on that time." REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (L), Stelios Varias SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer (L) and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus watch as U.S. President Donald Trump presents the U.S. Air Force Academy football team with the Commander-in-Chief trophy in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 2, 2017. Joshua Roberts: "Covering the White House does not just mean covering the President. White House staffers are an important part of the story and their relationship with the President and each other is an indicator of how things are going in the West Wing. The tendency is to focus exclusively on the President once an event starts but I always try to look around to see how people are reacting as things unfold." REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
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Planned Parenthood said the move was the latest example of the Trump administration's efforts to block women, transgender people and other communities from access to care.

Americans United for Life, a group that opposes abortion rights, said the HHS had taken a strong step forward to allow individuals and organization to exclude abortions or other services that violate their conscience. (Additional reporting by Caroline Humer, Jilian Mincer and Brendan Pierson in New York, and Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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