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But the administration insists rules will strengthen provider conscience rights without restricting health care providers’ abilities from performing any legal service or procedure.

Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, called the administration’s action “a huge victory for religious freedom and the First Amendment.”

“This is also a victory for the right of patients to choose doctors who decline to engage in morally objectionable practices,” he said. “The scope of conscience must be defined by individuals and not the government.”