The Trump administration announced the creation of a new division within the Health and Human Services Department that will provide protections for health care workers who have moral objections to providing certain services such as abortions.
JUST IN: Trump administration creating civil rights division to shield health workers who oppose abortion, treating transgender patients https://t.co/OyPwgelrY7
— The Denver Post (@denverpost) January 18, 2018
The new conscience and religious freedom division falls under the Office of Civil Rights and will investigate complaints by employees that their religious rights have been violated, thus protecting those who do not want to take part in treating transgender patients or in performing abortions and other services they find objectionable.
“No one should be forced to choose between helping sick people and living by one’s deepest moral or religious convictions, and the new division will help guarantee that victims of unlawful discrimination find justice,” Roger Severino, the Trump-appointed director of the Office of Civil Rights said Thursday, The Hill reported. “We are saying, with the launch of this division, you do not need to shed your religious identity, you do not need to shed your moral convictions to be a part of the public square.”
Protections for employees that were in place under former President George W. Bush were rolled back by the Obama administration, a move highly criticized by President Trump. Conservative groups applauded the move by the Trump administration to uphold the religious liberty of health care providers.
“We think the Trump administration should set an example in enforcing the multiple conscience laws that have been passed since the 1970s to prevent the government from punishing people who have objections to participating in abortion,” David Christensen, vice president of government affairs at the Family Research Council, said according to the Denver Post.
Cue the hysteria and whining from the left, as groups who claim to be all about protecting some part of the population reacted to the news. From LGBTQ and women’s groups to lawmakers and more, the reactions erupted on Twitter.
Today, HHS created the “Conscience & Religious Freedom Division.” Despite the name, this division isn’t *actually* here to enforce religious freedom – it’s designed to protect providers who discriminate against women & LGBTQ people. https://t.co/Q92EeLbPVQ #PutPatientsFirst
— NARAL (@NARAL) January 18, 2018
This means those who refuse to provide birth control or abortion – basic elements of reproductive healthcare – will now be protected. ? https://t.co/g5vcMx5qKO #RxforDiscrimination #PutPatientsFirst
— NARAL (@NARAL) January 18, 2018
No one should be denied health care — including safe, legal abortion — because of their health provider’s beliefs. Trans people already face obstacles to getting care.
The Trump admin is giving doctors a #LicenseToDiscriminate. pic.twitter.com/XCUeqP4lnP
— Planned Parenthood (@PPact) January 18, 2018
We’re out in front of HHS with our allies to make sure the Trump administration knows they can’t use religion as a guise to discriminate against women and LGBTQ people. We say: #PutPatientsFirst — no #RxforDiscrimination! pic.twitter.com/om7pKpHIYS
— NWLC (@nwlc) January 18, 2018
Any healthcare worker who has moral objections to providing medically necessary care to an entire vulnerable population is in the wrong line of work. https://t.co/ObvvMt8iHq
— GLAAD (@glaad) January 18, 2018
If these deeply disturbing reports are true, this HHS action will harm women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and their Constitutional rights. Permitting providers to discriminate against patients in need of care for ideological reasons is simply wrong. https://t.co/gk62gH02lF
— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) January 17, 2018
We won’t let @realDonaldTrump distort religious freedom into a license to discriminate. pic.twitter.com/Fr2Cck0iuo
— ACLU (@ACLU) January 18, 2018
But for many Americans, especially federal workers directly affected by laws that force them to choose between their jobs and their consciences, the change is a relief.
“This is a welcome change from the Obama administration’s stubborn refusal to enforce federal laws that prohibit discrimination against health care entities,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said, according to The Hill.
“For too long too many of these health care practitioners have been bullied and discriminated against because of their religious beliefs and moral conviction,” acting HHS Secretary Eric Hargan said Thursday.
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