This morning the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced they were creating a new office that would prioritize protecting hospitals, doctors, and nurses who use their religious beliefs to deny patients health care. I’m just as mad as you are. And I went to HHS to tell them in no way is the National Women’s Law Center going to allow providers to put patients’ lives and health in danger. HHS should be using its resources to protect patients and promote health—not to protect doctors, nurses, and institutions that discriminate. I said it loud and clear this morning and I am going to say it again: RELIGIOUS BELIEFS SHOULD NEVER DICTATE PATIENT CARE.
I have a few other things to say about HHS’s actions today and I could go on and on about it, but I’ll keep it short with the top 7 reasons why I’m super mad at HHS:
- All morning HHS talked about religious freedom, a value we all hold dear. But they forgot to mention that freedom of religion includes freedom from religion. Health care providers don’t get to discriminate and refuse to provide women and trans patients the health care they need. HHS should be protecting patients’ ability to access health care and providers’ ability to provide that health care, rather than devoting unnecessary increased resources to an office focused on only those who would deny patients care.
- HHS tried to make it sounds like the Hippocratic Oath is about making sure health care workers can discriminate. BUT REALLY the Oath means that health care workers should #PutPatientsFirst. HHS has a responsibility to enforce all federal health care non-discrimination laws protecting patients and providers, not just to enforce laws that protect those who use religious beliefs to deny patients care.
- HHS had the nerve to say that it is “devoted to nothing more than treating people fairly, with justice.” Nope, nope, nope. Creating a new office for protecting discrimination within HHS is doing the exact opposite.
- HHS kept referring to the “seared conscience” of individuals, and health care entities like hospitals and corporations. However, they didn’t once mention the harm caused to women or trans patients who have been sent home critically ill because of a providers refusal to treat them.
- As we were demonstrating our resistance to HHS’s creation of this new office for protecting discrimination, security set up barricades. They blocked us from entering what we all believed to be a public meeting –just like they are trying to block women and trans patients from getting the care they need.
- This morning HHS used Dr. King’s legacy in order to justify allowing health care providers to discriminate against their patients. But Dr. King stood for civil rights, which includes access to health care and equality in health care. The Department setting up this new office for protecting discrimination is the exact opposite of what Dr. King would want. HEALTH CARE IS FOR ALL NOT JUST FOR SOME.
- This is all part of a larger trend. The creation of this new office for protecting discrimination is another attempt to allow religion to be used to discriminate. We won’t stand for this.
I’m outraged. A providers’ religious beliefs should never determine the care a patient receives. We are saying NO MORE.