Unless we’re able to block it first, President Donald Trump’s Denial of Care Rule will go into effect one month from today – putting all of our lives at risk. The rule invites any health care worker – including doctors, nurses, paramedics, orderlies and receptionists – to deny care to any patient on the basis of the worker’s religious or moral beliefs.
Anyone could be denied care, even in life-threatening circumstances, because of who they are, who they love, what they believe or what medical care they’re seeking. Women, LGBTQ people, patients with AIDS or HIV, and religious minorities are particularly at risk.
This rule is a gross misinterpretation of our fundamental principle of religious freedom, which guarantees us all the right to believe, or not, as long as we don’t harm others. But harming others is exactly what this rule would do. Our government should be protecting patients, not facilitating discrimination and calling it religious freedom.
Threatened with the loss of crucial federal funding if they don’t comply with the rule’s confusing and unworkable requirements, health care facilities could feel forced to stop providing certain services like reproductive and LGBTQ-focused care – which is the ultimate goal of Trump and his base of religious extremists. This rule could debilitate health systems across the country, leaving millions without access to critical health care.
That’s why Americans United and our allies filed not one, but two federal lawsuits to stop the rule from taking effect:
- In one case filed in California, we joined the Center for Reproductive Rights, Lambda Legal and Santa Clara County, which runs an extensive public health and hospital system that serves as a safety-net provider for the county’s 1.9 million Bay Area residents. Other plaintiffs in the case include providers across the country that focus on reproductive and LGBTQ care plus five doctors and three medical associations.
- The second case was filed in Maryland in conjunction with Baltimore City Solicitor, where the Baltimore City Health Department has strived to ensure that vulnerable and historically marginalized populations can seek medical care without fear of stigmatization by eradicating the very type of discrimination in health care that the Denial of Care Rule encourages. The rule would endanger not only the health of vulnerable groups but also the public health for the entire city population of about 600,000.
AU attorneys will travel to San Francisco on Oct. 30, where our case will be argued. We hope that federal judge will declare the Denial of Care Rule unlawful. In early November, we expect to be in Baltimore urging the federal court there to reach the same conclusion.
To support our cases, about 30 medical professionals and health care administrators affiliated with our clients offered testimony on the myriad ways the Denial of Care Rule will exacerbate discrimination, erect more barriers for people trying to access health care, make staffing more difficult and costly for providers, undermine medical training and the medical knowledge of the next generation of heath care workers, and above all, put people’s lives at risk. We’ll be sharing their concerns in the coming weeks on this blog.
Meanwhile, we’re prepared to do everything in our power to stop the rule from going into effect, but taking on the Trump administration requires significant resources. Please consider making a donation to Americans United to help our team defeat this rule and protect religious freedom and health care for all.