The Trump administration continues its assault on women’s rights and the rights of the LGBTQ community by announcing plans this week to “protect health workers” for refusing to handle abortions or treat transgender people because of the worker’s moral objections to doing so.
Later that same day, the administration’s Sarah Sanders announced that President Donald Trump will become the first acting president to ever address March for Life, the anti-abortion group in Washington, D.C.
Moreover, earlier this year the administration’s attempted to block undocumented immigrant teenage girls from obtaining abortions while in federal custody and replaced the Department of Health and Human Services with a leading skeptic of birth-control. The new head of the Department, Roger Severino, is noted as having “a long record of advocating for religious groups and arguing against LGBT projections.”
In the Trump administration’s reorganization of the revival of the Department of Health and Human Services it is planning on adopting new rules that would give health workers a license to discriminate based on their personal religious beliefs.
POLITICO reports that:
The pending rule, which could be released as soon as this week, has been described to POLITICO as establishing a new division of the HHS civil rights office 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. The new division would be a third, co-equal branch with the office’s existing two divisions that focus on federal civil rights laws and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The office would also conduct outreach and technical support to help others who are seeking to strengthen protections for workers with religious and moral objections to certain procedures.
Such a policy allowing discrimination would greatly put women seeking reproductive care, transgender people, and HIV-positive people seeking treatment, and others at risk. While over the years, great progress has been made in assuring constitutional freedoms and protections for such individuals, this new strategy seems to be a different angle on typical unconstitutional laws that target a woman’s right to choose and the LGBTQ community.
Harper Jean Tobin of the National Center for Transgender Equality stated, “This is the use of religion to hurt people because you disapprove of who they are… Any rule that grants a license to discriminate would be a disgrace and a mockery of the principle of religious freedom we all cherish.”
In a press release, the Democratic National Committee Director of Women’s Media Elizabeth Renda and Director of LGBTQ Media Lucas Acosta released a joint statement vilifying the Trump administration’s new policy:
Once again, women and the LGBTQ community are under attack from the Trump-Pence administration. Days before the anniversary of the Women’s March, Republicans are giving health workers a license to discriminate against women and members of the LGBTQ community.
It wasn’t enough to try to strip transgender Americans of their right to serve, roll back access to birth control, and attempt to defund Planned Parenthood. Now Trump, Pence, and their Republican cronies want to allow health care workers to discriminate and rip away access to medical care. This rule is unethical and dangerously undermines public health.
This proposal is further proof that Republicans continue to push forward an agenda completely out of step with the American people and American ideals. Democrats will continue to focus on how to improve access to health care for all Americans regardless of gender, orientation, or income.
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