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In January, the Trump-Pence administration proposed a refusal rule that would expand health care workers’ ability to deny people care. Not stopping there, the Department of Health and Human Services even created the “Conscience and Religious Freedom Division” under the Office for Civil Rights, empowering health care workers to discriminate against certain communities.

What does that mean?

  • A transgender patient could be denied hormone therapy or emergency care because their provider refuses to see transgender patients
  • A pharmacist could refuse to fill a prescription for birth control or antidepressants, or refuse to administer a vaccine simply because of their own personal beliefs

  • A hospital administrator could cancel a woman’s life-saving treatment for cancer because it might harm her pregnancy

People are rising up all over the country. The Trump-Pence administration is fueling a historic backlash to the extreme attacks on our health, our rights, and our communities. Y’all helped Planned Parenthood and coalition partners send over 200,000 comments to the Trump-Pence administration to fight this rule. Here are just a few comments:

As an advocate for victims of sexual assault and a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I am uniquely qualified to provide testimony to how this rule promotes discrimination and restricts access to health care, particularly for the most vulnerable communities that already have trouble accessing it.

— Eva from Florida

My life was saved by an abortion. I live in a hugely religious town. [If] the nurses treating me had refused care to me, I would have died.

— Christine from Michigan

As a queer woman married to another queer individual in a year when [anti-]LGBTQ crimes are on the rise, this proposed rule is frightening to say the least. I would hate to think that a doctor wouldn't treat me, my family, or anyone because of how they identify, especially as an already vulnerable member of society.

— Elizabeth from D.C.

Your office should be protecting care, not giving folks the means to discriminate. This is shameful. Years ago, my daughter was denied birth control from a pharmacist who didn't care for the fact that she wasn't married. It was prescribed by her doctor for painful periods, but that shouldn't matter, one way or the other. It was ridiculous, unconscionable, and discriminatory.

— Rebecca from Maine

LGBTQ people, women, and people of color already face discrimination in health care, and this rule would create more barriers to care. When 33 percent of transgender people have reported being mistreated while getting care and 29 percent have been refused care, we need protection from discrimination, period. Women of color, who already face discrimination while getting care, have more restricted access to health care because hospitals in their neighborhoods are more likely to be religiously affiliated.

A health care worker’s transphobia, racism, homophobia, or anti-abortion views can have life or death consequences for patients in their care. That’s why this rule is so dangerous, and why many doctors and health care providers have spoken out on how this refusal rule could harm their patients:

There is no acceptable reason to base the health care availability on anything other than medical need. Please do the right thing.

— Dr. Laurie from New York

I am a family physician who has worked with underserved populations and those at risk for years. Your new rule increases their risks and is not only poor health care but also poor public policy.

— Dr. Holly from Louisiana

As a physician, it is absolutely crucial that I provide the same level of care for every patient no matter how my own beliefs differ from theirs. I often have patients with whom I disagree about a wide spectrum of political and social causes. It would be so outrageously inappropriate for me to use that as grounds to change my medical care or to alter the level of respect and compassion I show for these patients.

— Dr. Lawren from Illinois

I have been a nurse practitioner since 1988. I see patients every day whom this would affect. I am also a retired colonel in the U.S. Army. I am horrified that such a discriminatory rule could even be contemplated, never mind passed.

— Patience from Texas

As a nurse practitioner and midwife in New Mexico, I work with a diverse population. This is a terrible idea and will result in some health care providers forcing their religious values on those who don't want them or who don't believe the same things. Health care is a human right and needs to be provided to everyone, in the way each person needs and desires it.

— Shawn from New Mexico

I am a fourth-year medical student about to become a physician, and this rule counteracts everything I am working towards. All people deserve and have the right to quality health care, and I will dedicate my career to fighting attitudes like this one.

— Heather from New York

 

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