Last week, when Donald Trump announced a new set of rules that would allow religious (read: Christian) medical professionals to discriminate against patients who were LGBTQ, women, minorities, etc., he was referring to a 440-page document about “conscience regulations” released by the Department of Health and Human Services.
The headlines that day were inevitably about the big takeaways from the document, not the minutiae of what was in the report. It would take more time for people to dig through the details. But one of those details, reported today by Dan Diamond and Andrew Restuccia of POLITICO, is just appalling.
It involves a 2011 poll taken by Christian Medical Association & the Freedom2Care coalition — both right-wing Christian groups — that asked people, for example, if they opposed regulations “that require medical professionals to perform or provide procedures to which they have moral or ethical objections.” Surprise, surprise, nearly 90% of Americans said they did not want medical professionals being forced to do things that violated their beliefs. (It’s a leading question; what else would you expect?)
Another poll, from 2009, on behalf of the Christian Medical & Dental Association, found similar results for similar reasons. That poll also included results that were taken by members of the Christian group — in other words, medical professionals who belonged to a conservative Christian group said they shouldn’t have to perform procedures if they didn’t want to.
That’s like asking NRA members for their thoughts on gun control, then citing their response as a basis for new regulations.
Those polls, POLITICO says, were referenced a dozen times in the 440-page report as justification for the new rules.
They were both conducted by “the polling company™, inc./WomanTrend.” And who was the CEO of that company? Kellyanne Conway, better known today as the primary shill for the Trump administration. (She literally coined the phrase “alternative facts” as a euphemism for her lies.) She even announced the results in 2009 in front of the National Press Club.
Conway had been hired by the Christian Medical and Dental Associations to bolster the groups’ position that doctors and nurses shouldn’t be required to perform procedures, including abortions, to which they morally objected.
The 440-page rule cites Conway’s years-old polling, including another she conducted in 2011, a dozen times. No other surveys are cited more frequently — and no other data is more central to the Trump administration’s arguments.
Conway said she had nothing to do with the new HHS rules, and administration officials claim that her role as an adviser to Trump had nothing to do with the use of her polls in the report. But the use of her polls from nearly a decade ago — as opposed to looking more closely at the current medical situation, is telling:
… the praise [from conservative Christians] hasn’t swayed experts worried about the heavy reliance on Conway’s 2009 and 2011 polling, noting that the surveys were done before the U.S. health system was reshaped by the Affordable Care Act, a slew of industry mergers and even new non-discrimination protections for patients.
It’s sadly not a shock to learn that the Trump administration relied on religious propaganda, not current research or more objective questions, to defend their new rules. There’s also no reason for medical professionals to adjust what they do based on the whims of bigoted Americans. Just because a lot of Americans might object to doctors doing something against their will, all that should matter is what’s in a patient’s best interest.
But this administration doesn’t care about what vulnerable Americans need. They only care about what conservative Christians want.
(Screenshot via YouTube)