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We’re only a few weeks into 2018, but the Trump-Pence regime is already finding more ways to target women and LGBTQ people. They’ve created an entirely new office — housed under the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) as part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) — that’s designed to discriminate against certain communities.

OCR is an important office within the HHS that’s meant to protect health care for marginalized communities, including LGBTQ people and underserved women. But the creation of the new “Conscience and Religious Freedom Division” paves the way for discrimination against people for a variety of reasons — be it their gender identity, sexual orientation, or decision to access a safe, legal abortion.

It’s as absurd and ironic as it sounds. The government agency in charge of protecting the health of all Americans is now using its resources to deny health care and discriminate.

As of Wednesday, the OCR website still carried a mission statement from President Obama’s administration. It promised to “ensure that people have equal access to...HHS programs” and “protect the privacy and security of health information.”

But on Thursday morning, a much different mission statement was suddenly announced.

The new “mission” statement claims that “individuals and entities are free from coercion and can exercise their conscience and religious freedom rights.”

In other words, health care providers now have the green light to discriminate against women, LGBTQ patients, and others.

To top it all off, OCR is still under the command of Roger Severino, who believes that women who have had an abortion should be denied health care. Severino is against birth control access, transgender rights, abortion rights, and same-sex marriage.

These disturbing changes — the creation of a “Conscience and Religious Freedom” division and OCR’s new mission statement — indicate some of the Trump-Pence administration’s goals.

Unchecked discrimination. An unequal health care system. LGBTQ people and women treated as second-class citizens.


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