FFRF condemns reckless ‘religious freedom’ division at HHS

A new federal unit that is being created under the ruse of freedom of conscience will jeopardize health care and true freedom of conscience, charges the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

The Conscience and Religious Freedom Division in the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services will help and encourage health care providers to refuse “to perform, accommodate, or assist with certain health care services on religious or moral grounds.” Under the new policy, medical professionals — nurses, doctors, pharmacists — may refuse to treat transgender or other individual patients or take part in abortions, voluntary sterilizations or any health care they otherwise claim a religious or “moral” objection to. 

“Once again we see this administration using the guise of ‘religious freedom’ to deny civil liberties and impose religious beliefs on others,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.

Politico reports that the new division will also “punish organizations that don’t allow [workers] to express their religious and moral objections, according to sources on and off the Hill.” 

The announcement comes the day before the so-called “March for Life,” an annual anti-choice rally organized by the Religious Right to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade (Jan. 22), and less than a week before the anniversary of the Women’s March.

The list of workers the division will “protect” is theoretically endless: the anesthesiologist who thinks that an abortion to save the life of the pregnant woman shouldn’t be performed or an ambulance driver with the same objection; the pharmacist opposed to birth control who won’t process prescriptions or even refer to another pharmacist on site; the ER staffer who refuses rape victims the morning-after-pill; the nurse who doesn’t want to run an IV line for a transgendered patient; the physician who refuses to treat a Muslim patient; or a medical worker to won’t adhere to a patient’s end-of-life directives.

By insisting that “the right to live out your religious identity” permits anyone in the medical community to outright deny care, the Trump administration is approving the denial of this same right of conscience to vulnerable populations and many women.

“Denying care is no better than inflicting harm when you are a medical professional,” argues FFRF Co-President Dan Barker, “and Health and Human Services should be urging medical professionals to adhere to the Hippocratic oath, not a bronze-age book of ignorance, superstition, and bigotry.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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