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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issues final 'conscience rule.' Effective as of late July, this regulation from the HHS Office for Civil Rights protects individuals, health care entities, and professionals "from discrimination on the basis of their exercise of conscience in HHS-funded programs," according to an HHS statement. This includes protection of health care employees who decline to take part in health services-such as those related to abortion, sterilization, or assisted suicide-that "violate their conscience" because of religious beliefs or moral convictions. Federal agencies and programs and state and local governments that receive federal funding are among the entities affected.