Trump administration strengthens 'conscience rule' for health care workers

Sunday, 05 May, 2019

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights in a statement said the rule "protects individuals and health care entities from discrimination on the basis of their exercise of conscience in HHS-funded programs".

Trump has spoken about prayer and its importance at different times during his presidency, whether in association with the National Day of Prayer or independent of it.

"The Department has also witnessed an increase in lawsuits against State and local laws that plaintiffs allege violate conscience or unlawfully discriminate", the rule says.

On their website, the OCR's mission statement has changed since last week, it focuses on their vision which now states, "OCR enforces civil rights laws and conscience and religious freedom laws, and protects the privacy, security, and availability of individuals' health information". "This final rule ignores the needs of the patients and individuals served by HHS' programs and will create significant confusion about the rights and responsibilities of health care providers and entities".

The rule represents Trump's latest effort to highlight religious-liberty claims when they come into conflict with issues such as access to medical care.

Letting personal religious beliefs get in the way of care is "outrageous, immoral, and unsafe", said Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Transgender Law Center, in a statement. "When I go into a doctor's office and am sitting in an exam room, my expectation is that the highest and most important interest is my health, not the physician's religious or moral beliefs". And it requires applicants for HHS federal financial assistance to provide assurances and certifications of compliance.

HHS said it received more than 242,000 public comments regarding the proposed version of the conscience rule it released in 2018.

"Abortion rights and LGBT rights activists argue that the new rule will only make it harder for people seeking abortions and sex reassignment procedures to obtain that care, particularly in underserved, rural areas, where anti-abortion state laws already make accessing abortion services difficult", Buzzfeed News reports.

Since it was first proposed previous year, the proposal has drawn widespread criticism from civil rights advocates who say it will provide cover for discrimination.

The rabbi, who was delivering a sermon on the final day of Passover at the time of the shooting, said that we can't control situations.

"We are giving these laws life with this regulation", said Severino, saying it's no different from civil rights statutes enforced in daily life through government regulation and oversight. "Protecting conscience and religious freedom not only fosters greater diversity in healthcare, it's the law", Severino concluded.

"No healthcare worker should ever be forced to choose between their practice or their faith", she said in a statement.

The Trump administration is putting the finishing touches on a regulation to protect the rights of clinicians who object to participating in abortions. "That principle is enshrined in countless laws and regulations but has been violated for far too long".

For more than 40 years, federal law has protected conscience rights of Americans in the context of health care.

"This is part of the administration's systemic attacks on health care rights, and since day one they have been working to infringe on freedoms and taking away the rights of people of color and LGBTQ people and women", Dillon said.

"We will fight with all our strength and everything that we have in our bodies to defeat anti-Semitism", the president said.