Trump Administration Invites Health Care Providers to Discriminate Against LGBT Patients with New HHS Rule

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January 18, 2018

Lambda Legal has published an analysis of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) new rule, issued earlier in the day, creating a new unit within the HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR) called the “Conscience and Religious Freedom Division.”

The aim of the new unit is to shield from the consequences of violating anti-discrimination protections healthcare workers who refuse to perform certain procedures, such as abortion, or who refuse to treat transgender patients, or to provide other services because of moral objections. Lambda Legal’s analysis shows that the rule will almost certainly result in the denial of medical care to people and cause potentially life-threatening harm, in violation of numerous laws and regulations that prohibit such discrimination. 

The analysis further shows that the creation of this unit is part of a pattern of Trump administration actions stripping LGBT people of civil rights, often in the name of religious freedom. 

“It shocks the conscience that our government would invite healthcare providers to discriminate against their patients, but this is exactly what HHS’s new unit is designed to do,” said Lambda Legal CEO Rachel B. Tiven.  “We know that people will be denied care as a result because discrimination against LGBT people is already widespread and LGBT people have already been turned away from hospitals and doctors’ offices.  The Orwellian ‘Conscience and Religious Freedom’ unit simply provides guidance on how they can try to get away with it.”  

Lambda Legal encourages anyone who experiences harassment, denial of service or other discrimination in health care services on the basis of gender identity, sexual orientation or HIV status to visit www.lambdalegal.org/healthcarehelp.