Of all the problems in the healthcare industry, Donald Trump‘s administration has chosen to tackle an interesting issue: the rights of medical workers who have moral objections to certain procedures, including abortions and gender transition therapies.
Trump’s team plans to overhaul the civil rights office of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a larger plan to protect healthcare workers who don’t want to provide services for which they have religious objections:
Under a proposed rule — which has been closely guarded at HHS and is now under review by the White House — the civil rights office would be empowered to further shield these workers and punish organizations that don’t allow them to express their religious and moral objections, according to sources on and off the Hill. That would be a significant shift for the office, which currently focuses on enforcing federal civil rights and health care privacy laws…
Roger Severino, the Trump administration appointee who now leads the HHS civil rights office, has repeatedly stressed that strengthening conscience protections for health care workers is a top priority for his office.
Let’s not forget that Trump, during his campaign, promised to be a “friend” to the LGBTQ community. Yet he tried to ban transgender people from the military and now plans to make it easier for doctors and hospitals to discriminate against them. (Perhaps he doesn’t know what the “T” in “LGBTQ” stands for.)
Not surprisingly, trans rights groups and allies are not happy.
That’s alarmed advocates for LGBT patients, who say they’re already fighting to overcome stigmas and discrimination and who warn that the policy shift will only worsen their situation.
“This is the use of religion to hurt people because you disapprove of who they are,” said Harper Jean Tobin of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “Any rule that grants a license to discriminate would be a disgrace and a mockery of the principal of religious freedom we all cherish.”
Fortunately, even though the new rules haven’t been officially announced yet, they have already been met with fierce opposition.
Patient groups and legal organizations vowed to challenge HHS if providers are allowed to deny care based on criteria like a patient’s gender or gender expression. “Should the administration choose to move forward to implement a discriminatory policy, we will see them in court,” Louise Melling, of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.
The new rules — a priority for anti-abortion groups and supporters — could come just days before Friday’s March for Life, the annual gathering in Washington marking the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. Republicans have typically timed votes on anti-abortion legislation to the event, the nation’s largest anti-abortion rally.
These new rules are not surprising, but they are another example of Trump’s frequent gifts to the Religious Right, and of the persecution complex from which they suffer. They believe they’re the ones who are suffering, not the stigmatized trans people seeking surgery or women grappling with what may be the toughest decision of their lives.
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