Showing once again its disregard for the separation of church and state guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, the Trump administration is about to roll back rules that require health care workers to perform abortions, treat transgender patients seeking to transition or provide other services that violate their personal religious or moral views.
The rules being put forward by the Department of Health and Human Services, according to a report by Politico, would restructure the agency’s civil rights office to shift from enforcing civil rights and health care privacy laws to shielding workers and punish organizations that do not allow them to express their religious and moral objections when they do their job for the federal government.
The shift has advocates for LGBT patients upset because they say these people are already fighting to overcome social stigmas and social discrimination. They say the new rules will only make their situation worse.
“This is the use of religion to hurt people because you disapprove of who they are,” Harper Jean Tobin of the National Center for Transgender Equality told Politico. “Any rule that grants a license to discriminate would be a disgrace and a mockery of the principle of religious freedom we all cherish.”
Legal organizations and groups who support patient rights say they will sue if providers are allowed to deny care based on a persons gender or gender expression.
“Should the administration choose to move forward to implement a discriminatory policy,” said Louise Melling of the ACLU, “we will see them in court.”
The Trump rules would roll back protections put in place in 2011 under President Obama which replaced rules put in under President George W. Bush that allowed employees to refuse to work on cases that involved proving birth control, treating HIV and AIDs, providing birth control to lesbian couples, providing an ambulance for a woman seeking an abortion and opting out of end of life care, among others.
The timing of the new rules, which are expected to be announced as soon as next week, is not an accident. There is an annual “March for Life” coming up in Washington where opponents of abortion rally to protest on the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v Wade decision that cleared the way for legal abortions.
@ObGynNews New #HHS rules expand religious opt-outs for birth control coverage. Dr. Haywood Brown:
"instead of fulfilling its mission to protect health, HHS leased are focused on turning back the clock on women's health."#protectourcare
— DrKCain (@DrKCain) December 27, 2017
Trump since his inauguration has made a series of high-level appointments at HHS (and elsewhere) of conservatives with a long history of opposing abortion and favoring religious tests for certain activities despite constitutional protections designed to separate the government from various religion’s views.
Trump has repeatedly promised religious groups and evangelicals who supported his election that he would institute these kinds of faith-based rules and regulations, even if they are only backed by certain religions and in many cases only some of those who support that religion.
Trump’s HHS illegally posted only 80 of >10,000 comments received on dereg for religious groups fr 10/25 posting; HHS stopped taking comments on 10/24.
It’s harm per se; fundamental to preserving our democracy and rights is following proper procedures for making rules/regs. https://t.co/5CSKBqwp38
— BarbaraAnn Radnofsky (@TXBarbaraAnn) December 18, 2017
Before Trump, America was heralded as a melting pot where everyone could live and work together, or at least side by side, because no single religious view could be forced on anyone. Trump is doing his best to undo what made America great.
— Ryan Thoreson (@ryanthoreson) October 6, 2017