The Trump administration is considering a set of regulations that would offer new protections to health workers who refuse to provide care to transgender patients or women seeking abortion services, according to a report from Politico. This is what happens when anti-trans and anti-abortion ideologues are empowered at every level of government.
The proposed rule would establish a new division of the Health and Human Services office in charge of civil rights that would “conduct compliance reviews, audits and other enforcement actions to ensure that health care providers are allowing workers to opt out of procedures when they have religious or moral objections,” Politico reports.
Roger Severino, the Trump administration appointee that heads that office, has had this on his to-do list for a while now. Prior to joining the Trump administration, Severino was director of the Heritage Foundation’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, where he authored a report outlining precisely this kind of regulatory rollback.
In response to nondiscrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act related to trans healthcare, Severino and his co-author called protections based on gender identity a threat to “medical professionals and health care organizations that, as a matter of faith, moral conviction, or professional medical judgment, believe that maleness and femaleness are biological realities to be respected and affirmed, not altered or treated as diseases.”
Similarly, he described nondiscrimination protections defined to include discrimination on the basis of terminating a pregnancy as a threat to the “freedom of conscience of physicians, health care entities, and individuals who have religious or moral objections to abortion.”
This is why he got the job.
The rule could be rolled out as early as this week, according to Politico. Just in time for the March for Life.
Updated on 1/18/2018:
The Department of Health and Human Services announced on Thursday a new division of the Office of Civil Rights, called the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, that will investigate claims from workers who say their employers have violated their “deepest moral or religious convictions.”
“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,” OCR Director Roger Severino said on Thursday, as reported by the Hill.
“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.”
The American Civil Liberties Union is already planning legal action.
“Medical standards, not religious belief, should guide medical care. Denying patients health care is not liberty. Choosing your patients based on their gender or gender expression is not freedom,” said Louise Melling, deputy legal director at the ACLU, in a comment published to the organization’s website. “Should the administration choose to move forward to implement a discriminatory policy, we will see them in court.”