The Trump Administration is gearing up to propose a new rule that would allow hospitals, doctors, and nurses to determine a patient’s care based on their religious beliefs, not based on what is best for the patient. If this new rule is as bad as what is being reported, it will propose that health care workers be able to refuse to provide any health care service to which they assert a moral objection. This would be illegal, discriminatory, and put patients’ lives and health in danger.
We’ve seen this type of discrimination before, and we know what happens to women and LGBTQ+ people when health care workers refuse to provide patients the care they need.
- A nurse refused to provide fertility treatments to a lesbian couple based on a moral objection.
- A patient in an urban northeastern Catholic hospital experiencing a miscarriage nearly died because of the hospital’s refusal to treat her. The patient’s physician recalled that the “woman [wa]s dying before our eyes.” Another woman experiencing pregnancy loss was denied care for 10 days at a Catholic hospital outside Chicago, Illinois. And Tamesha Means was sent home by a Catholic hospital with two Tylenol after her water broke at 18 weeks of pregnancy. The hospital did not give her full information about her condition and her treatment options. The hospital only provided Tamesha care when she began to deliver.
- Health care providers have refused to treat countless patients because of their transgender status. A physician denied a patient a physical exam after the patient discussed the possibility of undergoing gender reassignment surgery with his physician.
- Jennafer Morris, a patient in Arkansas, endured a number of dangerous pregnancy complications and could not risk becoming pregnant again. She requested a sterilization procedure at the time of her delivery, but her Catholic hospital provider refused to give her the procedure, even though it presents fewer risks, and is more cost effective than delaying the procedure to a later time.
The Trump Administration has made it clear that it will continue to prioritize religious beliefs over patient access to care, regardless of the consequences.
This proposed rule follows a series of actions the Trump Administration has already taken to allow religion to determine patient care. This new proposed rule would be yet another attempt to allow religion to be used to discriminate. But we won’t let that happen.
The National Women’s Law Center is prepared to take whatever action is necessary to ensure patients can get the care they need. Because a provider’s religious beliefs should never determine the care a patient receives.