Today, the Trump administration is announcing a new office in the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services called the “Conscience and Religious Freedom Division” (CRFD), intended to “ease the way for doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to opt out of providing services that violate their moral or religious beliefs.” In other words, this new division will allow medical providers to deny abortion and other critical health care services for LGBTQ people and people living with HIV when they have moral objections.
What are these implications? The Center for American Progress released new data from a 2017 survey, showing the prevalence and impact of discriminatory medical care on LGBTQ people. The data are especially shocking with regards to transgender people, as 29 percent reported that “a doctor or other health care provider refused to see them because of their actual or perceived gender identity.” Some people brush off such statistics, claiming that individuals turned away from one provider can simply find another. But this isn’t so easy, especially in small towns and rural areas. In fact, 41 percent of LGBTQ people who live outside of metro areas say it would be very difficult or not possible to find service at a different hospital, if one hospital turned them away.
This isn’t the first time the Trump administration has attempted to disrupt Americans’ health care services in the name of religious freedom. Last year, the Trump administration attacked women’s access to contraception, saying that employers that objected to birth control would not have to provide it at no cost, as mandated by the Affordable Care Act. (Thankfully, multiple federal judges have stopped the rule.) One of Trump’s first actions in office was to expand the Global Gag Rule, which resulted in the loss of $8.8 billion in U.S. aid for crucial medical services. Tomorrow, he will become the first sitting president to address the March for Life, an anti-abortion rally that happens annually in Washington D.C. With the 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade on Monday, the government must protect women’s abortion rights and stop these attacks on women’s health care once and for all.
(source: think Progress 1/18/18)