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Lambda Legal: New Rule “Weaponizes” HHS Office of Civil Rights

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“Today’s proposed rule…turns the Hippocratic Oath into the Hypocritical Oath and violates the most basic tenets of medical ethics.”
January 19, 2018

(Washington, DC, January 19, 2018) – The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) today issued a rule, “Protecting Statutory Conscience Rights in Health Care; Delegations of Authority,” one day after announcing the creation of the “Conscience and Religious Freedom” unit. Camilla Taylor, Acting Legal Director, Lambda Legal, issued the following statement:

“When the Trump administration rolled out its new HHS division yesterday, we warned that its purpose was to facilitate discrimination. We were right. Today’s proposed rule represents nothing less than our own government attacking LGBT people, everyone living with HIV, women and many others in urgent need of health care. It turns the Hippocratic Oath into the Hypocritical Oath and violates the most basic tenets of medical ethics. It is a prescription for discrimination.

“The proposed rule doesn’t just protect health care institutions and medical providers who refuse care on religious grounds, it shields anyone who claims a “moral” objection, too. Not only is a government unit now tasked with ensuring that health workers get to refuse care, they will even be protected when they refuse to give a referral. And this proposed rule allows these health care providers to do so at taxpayer expense. It intends to allow health care institutions that refuse medical care to keep their federal funding and accreditation even though they are violating laws that prohibit discrimination and violating medical ethical rules that also forbid such discrimination. And as if that weren’t bad enough, the proposed rule would also allow for widely discredited ex-gay conversion “therapy,” a form of torture that is as harmful as it is ineffective.

“The Trump administration has spent its first year undermining civil rights protections and encouraging bigotry of many kinds, and its many attacks on LGBT and HIV+ communities are systematically attempting to erase us from the law altogether. With the proposed rule and the new “Conscience and Religious Freedom” unit they have gone one step further, weaponizing HHS’s Office of Civil Rights against us.”

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Contact Info

Press contact:  Tom Warnke, Cell: 213-841-4503, Email: twarnke@lambdalegal.org.

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