President Trump and the Department of Health and Human Services finalized a new “conscience rule” yesterday that allows health care providers to decline to participate in procedures in which they have religious or moral objections. This rule means that healthcare for LGBTQ people and women could be at risk because healthcare providers could decline to prescribe birth control, HIV treatments or preventatives, or gender-confirmation procedures. The rule replaces an old 2011 rule that the administration found “inadequate.”
Trump announced the new rule in the Rose Garden yesterday, during his speech commemorating the National Day of Prayer. “To protect this heritage my administration has strongly defended religious liberty… just today we finalized new protections of conscience rights of physicians, pharmacists, nurses, teachers, students, and faith-based charities. We’ve been wanting to do that for a long time, right, Mike?” Trump said at the event, referring to Mike Pence, the Vice President, who is well-known for his opposition to LGBTQ rights.
“Finally, laws prohibiting government-funded discrimination against conscience and religious freedom will be enforced like every other civil rights law,” said Office of Conscience and Religous Freedom Director Roger Severino in a disingenuous statement that minimizes the effect of the law on vulnerable communities. “This rule ensures that healthcare entities and professionals won’t be bullied out of the health care field because they decline to participate in actions that violate their conscience…” Roger Severino has a history of anti-LGBTQ activism.
“The Trump-Pence administration’s latest attack threatens LGBTQ people by permitting medical providers to deny critical care based on personal beliefs,” said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy in a statement. “The administration’s decision puts LGBTQ people at greater risk of being denied necessary and appropriate health care solely based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Everyone deserves access to medically necessary care and should never be turned away because of who they are or who they love.”