Critics of President Donald Trump's
“conscience rule” for healthcare providers say it would allow
discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Trump announced the rule during a
National Day of Prayer speech he delivered in the White House Rose
Garden. A final version was announced on Thursday.
The Trump administration claims the
rule is needed to protect healthcare providers who object to certain
procedures from discrimination.
“[The rule] protects individuals and
health care entities from discrimination on the basis of their
exercise of conscience in HHS-funded programs,” the U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights said in a
Critics of the rule say it will protect
healthcare workers who refuse to perform abortions based on their
religious beliefs and allow such providers to discriminate against
the LGBT community.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights
(NCLR) said in a statement that the new HHS rule would encourage
denials of health care to patients.
“This rule does not just implement
existing federal conscience protections for healthcare providers, it
dramatically expands them in ways that will lead to dangerous denials
of reproductive health care, and put vulnerable populations,
including LGBTQ people, at risk of increased discrimination,” said
Julianna S. Gonen, policy director at NCLR. “We’ve seen
firsthand, through our Legal Help Line and our Rural Pride campaign,
that health care discrimination against LGBTQ people is already
pervasive and causes serious harm to individuals and families. In
many communities in this country, LGBTQ people routinely face open
hostility and outright denials of care from doctors, hospitals,
therapists, and other health care providers. Rather than addressing
this serious problem, HHS issued a rule that will make it worse.”
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, called the rule an “attack”
on LGBT people.
“The Trump-Pence administration’s
latest attack threatens LGBTQ people by permitting medical providers
to deny critical care based on personal beliefs,” HRC Government
Affairs Director David Stacy said in a statement. “The
administration’s decision puts LGBTQ people at greater risk of
being denied necessary and appropriate health care solely based on
their sexual orientation or gender identity. Everyone deserves access
to medically necessary care and should never be turned away because
of who they are or who they love.”