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Lambda Legal slams Trump administration’s refusal policy

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HHS refusal policy

Lambda Legal slams Trump administration’s refusal policy

Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ civil rights organization, criticized the Trump administration for pushing a refusal policy in the creation of a new federal office that would support health care workers who discriminate.

The newly-created office would provide outreach and technical support to health care workers who would refuse treatment of transgender patients, offer reproductive health care, or provide critical medical services.

Of course, this refusal is based on moral or religious objections.

Refusal policy now at a federal level

The new “Conscience and Religious Freedom” division would be under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights.

More importantly, the establishment of this unit is on a federal level vis-a-vis refusal laws that are currently existing per state.

Heading this unit is Robert Severino, Director of the HHS Office of Civil Rights and formerly of the far-right think tank, the Heritage Foundation.

“It’s clear the Trump administration is more interested in protecting those who would deny us healthcare than in ensuring we have equal access to healthcare,” said Jenny Pizer, Lambda Legal’s Law and Policy Director.

Analysis of the refusal policy

Lambda Legal broke down the new ruling of the HHS to determine its impact on the LGBTQ people and found that it would result in the denial of medical care to people incur potential life-threatening harm.

Moreover, they noted that the creation of the unit is part of a pattern instigated by the Trump administration to go after the LGBTQ people in the name of religious freedom.

“It shocks the conscience that our government would invite healthcare providers to discriminate against their patients, but this is exactly what HHS’s new unit is designed to do,” said Lambda Legal CEO Rachel B. Tiven.

“We know that people will be denied care as a result because discrimination against LGBT people is already widespread and LGBT people have already been turned away from hospitals and doctors’ offices,” Tiven said.

Refusal policy as a federal unit

The new division is created under a new rule by the HHS “entitled “Ensuring Compliance with Certain Statutory Provisions in Health Care; Delegations of Authority.”

The rule is “designed to facilitate refusals of medically necessary care for individuals who are transgender or in a same-sex relationship, as well as the full range of reproductive health services and any other services to which an employee or a licensed health facility might object,” as noted in the Lambda Legal analysis.

“In so doing, the new division will invite health professionals to misunderstand and to ignore governing law and medical standards, and to put patients in jeopardy and themselves at risk of legal liability,” it warned.

The ruling comes following the Trump administration’s other efforts targeting the LGBTQ people, ranging from the selection of religious extremists to sit in federal and executive positions to drafting an executive order allowing religious exemptions.

“While freedom of religion is a fundamental right protected by our Constitution and federal laws, it does not give anyone the right to use religious or moral beliefs as grounds for violating the rights of others,” Lambda Legal noted.

The organization also declared that the creation of the division is “explicitly intended to facilitate refusals of medically necessary health care in the name of religion.”

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