Published: Thu, January 18, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

HHS unveils 'conscience protections' for health care workers

HHS unveils 'conscience protections' for health care workers

Severino would have jurisdiction over the proposal and is among the scheduled speakers for the HHS event on Thursday.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced the creation of a new and risky division of the Office of Civil Rights today that will allow healthcare providers to deny care to LGBT people and pregnant women based on their religious beliefs. Even before the official announcement, several groups vowed to challenge it.

She says there are many examples of health workers refusing care on religious grounds, including a nurse who didn't want to provide post-operative care to a woman who had an abortion, a pediatrician who declined to see a child because his parents were lesbians and a fertility doctor who didn't want to provide services to a lesbian couple.

The Health and Human Services' civil rights division is run by Roger Severino, a Trump appointee who has repeatedly spoken out in favour of religious groups' rights over those of LGBT people.

The Obama administration had rolled back some of the conscience protections put in place by the George W. Bush administration, to the chagrin of some conservatives.

The Trump administration has broken with its predecessor on several fronts in this area, and remains in a legal battle over a decision previous year to undo the contraceptive mandate under Obamacare, which requires employers to provide employees with insurance coverage for contraceptives.

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"Health providers should have the ability to live their religious beliefs without fear of workplace discrimination", said Sen.

"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. "That the administration is rushing out such a momentous rule in secret, hiding behind a vague description and potentially circumventing normal procedures, just underscores how far they have been straying from established law in this area".

"President Trump's Health and Human Services Department is playing with people's lives in their latest attempt to upend LGBTQ rights", Jerame Davis, Executive Director of Pride At Work, said in an emailed statement. "Many involved in providing medical care and those enrolled in health insurance plans have serious objections to participating in or paying for sex-reassignment surgeries or gender transitions". She sued but a court dismissed the case.

The news organization said HHS did not respond to its requests for comment on the proposed rule.

"Imposing their values on a patient is not in consort with our professional job as doctors", he said.

"Donald Trump's administration is handing out permission slips for hospitals and providers to deny individuals, including women and LGBT patients, access to a full range of health services including life saving emergency care", said Dawn Huckelbridge, director of the Women's Rights Initiative at American Bridge, a Democratic advocacy group.

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