On Tuesday (February 27), Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), introduced legislation to abolish the newly created Conscience and Religious Freedom division in the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights. The office was created in January, and LGBTQ and reproductive rights advocates believe that the office will give providers a license to discriminate.
This broad rule could mean that a woman is denied the ability to access an abortion, even though she should legally be able to do so. A patient could be denied birth control simply because their pharmacist or doctor doesn’t believe they should be able to take it. This rule could mean that a family is unable to get quality medical care for their child because the parents happen to be lesbians, or that a transgender person is unable to get basic medical care because of their gender identity. Patients’ health care will suffer if this becomes law.
Lujan Grisham, a member of the House Pro-Choice Caucus and the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, issued a statement about the legislation she introduced.
A patient’s health and wellness should always come first and the Trump Administration has no business facilitating discrimination and creating barriers for medically necessary health care that will ultimately harm patient health and endanger lives. […] This Division was created with the sole purpose of allowing hospitals, doctors, nurses, and even administrative staff to determine a patient’s care based on their personal religious beliefs, not on what is best for the patient.
While the bill is unlikely to gain traction in the Republican-controlled house, it reflects the broader concerns expressed by advocates and some other members of Congress when the office was announced last month.