What You Need to Know About the Trump Administration’s New Refusal Rule

One of the biggest trends of the Trump administration has been the president’s continuous focus on elevating religious rights –  Christian religious rights, that is.

From only appointing judges hand-picked by the Federalist Society to creating panels inside the highest levels of the federal government to protect social conservatives from ”discrimination,” the last two years have been an unmitigated boon for those who espouse Christian beliefs.

Now the administration is acting again — this time by implementing a new healthcare directive that will allow religious providers to opt out of services they claim to object to for “moral” reasons.

Here’s everything you need to know about this new “conscience rights” healthcare rule:

1. The law allegedly protects religious people from participating in “sinful” medical procedures.

The Associated Press reports:

Under the rule, clinicians and institutions would not have to provide, participate in, pay for, cover or make referrals for procedures they object to on moral or religious grounds. This will make it “so that people do not have to shed their religious beliefs to participate in health care,” said {Health and Human Services official Roger] Severino, adding that “certain medical professions such as OB-GYN should not be declared pro-life-free zones.”

2. But it offers religious people the opening to discriminate against people and call it “religious freedom.”

LGBTQ Nation explains:

The rule would allow workers to refuse to provide basic health care like birth control, refuse to treat women who have had abortions, and discriminate against gay or lesbian individuals and their families, including their children. The change is part of the Trump administration’s push to give Christians a license to discriminate under the guise of ‘religious freedom.

“Religious freedom doesn’t mean carte blanche to discriminate, especially in a health care setting. People should never fear that they’re going to be denied care because of their gender, who they love or their past medical decisions. Today’s rule codifies discrimination and it will result in deep harm to patient care,” Mary Alice Carter, Executive Director of Equity Forward, said in an emailed statement. “This is exactly the opposite of what our health department should stand for.”

3. The rule will deeply impact the trans community.

Buzzfeed News reports:

Transgender patients could also be denied certain treatments on moral grounds — though the new rule does not refer to transgender people explicitly. Rather, the rule cites the 1973 Church Amendment, which, in addition to addressing abortions, also protects federal funding for recipients who object to sterilizations. HHS’s new rule argues the law allows a provider to deny any service that results in sterilization.

“This allows providers to deny hormone therapy, hysterectomies, orchiectomies, and other transition-related services for transgender people,” said Gillian Branstetter, a spokesperson for the National Center for Transgender Equality.

4. The rule establishes the religious right as a protected class with additional rights denied to secular and other communities.

Rewire News states:

Louise Melling, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement, “Once again, this Administration shows itself to be determined to use religious liberty to harm communities it deems less worthy of equal treatment under the law. This rule threatens to prevent people from accessing critical medical care and may endanger people’s lives.”

“Religious liberty is a fundamental right, but it doesn’t include the right to discriminate or harm others,” Melling continued. “Denying patients health care is not religious liberty. Discriminating against patients based on their gender or gender expression is not religious liberty. Medical standards, not religious belief, should guide medical care.”

5. The religious right already has protections even without this new rule.

The New York Times explains:

A series of civil rights laws has long protected health care workers from offering certain types of care that conflict with their religious beliefs. But the new regulation pulls together 25 separate laws — some dealing only with abortion services, some with advance directives, and many that had typically not been overseen by the department’s Office for Civil Rights — into one broad framework. It also protects workers who not only decline to provide care but also refuse to refer patients to someone who will provide it.

6. This is basically Jeff Sessions’ fault.

According to The Atlantic:

When Trump entered office, his administration began systematically dismantling the legal architecture that had been set up by the Obama administration, creating new initiatives designed to defend religious liberty. In 2017, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote a letter instructing all federal agencies to pay special attention to religious-freedom issues, and last year he formed a new religious-liberty task force in the Department of Justice.

7. The president announced the new rule at the National Day of Prayer.

Of course he did.

Photo credit: Robin Marty

54 comments

Gino C
Gino C12 hours ago

thanks for this

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danii p
danii pyesterday

Thank you

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danii p
danii pyesterday

Thank you

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danii p
danii pyesterday

Thank you

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Clare O
Clare O2 days ago

In some countries, Christians are indeed being persecuted, as are gay people, single women, journalists, and so on. Maybe this is just a reaction.

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Clare O
Clare O2 days ago

All religions are equally daft and fantasies that take people's money, disempower women and pay no tax need to be banned. All of them.

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Karen H
Karen H2 days ago

If a medical practitioner or pharmacist feels their religion is more important than another person's life, they should get another job. The Constitution guarantees the right to follow our religious beliefs NO MATTER WHAT THOSE BELIEFS ARE. If I'm denied medicine because my pharmacist says it's against his (or her) religion to provide it, MY religious rights are being denied.

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld3 days ago

Freya H.,
This rule does not apply to life-saving treatment. It applies only to those elective procedures that they consider immoral. This rule will more likely prevent someone from dying. The only basic human right involved, is that of the person not being forced to perform an action they feel is detestable. The well-being if the patient is being placed first.

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Belinda Lang
Belinda Lang3 days ago

Health care is a basic human right. Any health care professional that doesn't put the well-being of the patient first has no business being in that profession. The Religious Right are false Christians.

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Belinda Lang
Belinda Lang3 days ago

Health care is a basic human right. Any health care professional that doesn't put the well-being of the patient first has no business being in that profession. The Religious Right are false Christians.

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