The Trump administration is creating an office aimed at protecting the religious rights of medical providers, including those who oppose abortion.
The new enforcement unit will be part of the civil rights office at the Department of Health and Human Services.
It will be called the Division on Conscience and Religious Freedom.
The administration’s action drew immediate criticism from Democrats like Sen Patty Murray of Washington, who say it will undermine women’s rights to a legal medical procedure and could open a path for discrimination against transgender people.
Thursday’s announcement comes a day before the annual anti-abortion march in Washington by abortion opponents.
Religious and social conservatives are a core constituency for the Trump administration. The president plans to address the march by satellite from the White House Rose Garden.