Jan 19, 2018

The Trump administration today issued a rule aimed at allowing health care workers to use religion as a reason to deny patients medical care. The move comes in the wake of the administration’s Jan. 18 decision to create a Conscience and Religious Freedom Division in the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The new office will be tasked with enforcing today’s rule.

Maggie Garrett, legislative director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, issued the following statement:

“The Trump administration is taking yet another step to elevate the religious beliefs of health care providers above the medical needs of patients. The rule puts patients’ health and well-being in jeopardy and could cause serious harm to those denied critical and lifesaving care.

“Women and LGBTQ patients are clearly the target of today’s discriminatory rule, but its reach goes even further and could negatively affect the health care of many others.

“Religious freedom is fundamental, but so is the right of patients to access the health care they need. This rule betrays both. No one should be denied lifesaving health care because of someone else’s religious beliefs. That’s just plain discrimination.”

Americans United is already suing the Trump administration over its policies restricting women’s access to birth control and banning Muslims from entering the country. This new rule will spark litigation as well, AU said.