• Karen McPhail

Implications of New Religious Exemption Law

A new regulation allowing individuals along with health care organizations to withdraw from providing health care services on the basis of religious or moral grounds has been finalized by the Department of Health and Human Services. These exemptions are concerning for many as they imply and appear to directly pertain to sex reassignment surgery, women's health and abortion, and several other areas.

The Trump administration insisted that this rule does not imply or relate directly to all these areas and does not set the grounds for allowing discrimination against women, those in the LGBTQ community or others. However, those advocating for women’s reproductive and LGBTQ rights are skeptical and truly question whether these actions and the administration’s rule is truly constitutional! This could be a slippery slope that leads to women and LGBTQ individuals being denied health care on their terms and per their expressed wishes.

Many feel that this reversal of what we know to be an Obama administration policy to be a part of a plan by conservatives to get in place even more restrictive programs and to provide individuals with the ability to block and prevent access to care and services for vulnerable populations. Many also feel that conservatives have been waiting for an opportunity to have a champion to move forward anti-abortion efforts and put into place “religious liberties” that provide individuals with the opportunity and legal support to deny services to LGBTQ Americans. Before even joining the Trump administration, Vice President Mike Pence had been a huge supporter of and advocate for religious liberty arguments, so it is not surprising that this continues as he is clearly a driving force for these initiatives.

Sadly, when President Trump recently announced that these changes would impact “physicians, pharmacists, nurses, teachers, students and faith-based charities,” he motioned toward the vice president, saying, “They’ve been wanting to do that for a long time, right, Mike?” Our country should not be driven by the personal agendas or the motives of others and should be providing and serving ALL people not some!

Medical professionals have a fundamental obligation to protect the well-being of their patients. Under their code of ethics, “Physicians are expected to provide care in emergencies, honor patients’ informed decisions to refuse life-sustaining treatment, and not discriminate against individuals based on race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other personal or social characteristics. In certain circumstances involving foreseeable harm or adverse consequences from delayed access to care, physicians have a strong obligation to serve the patient.” Patients should be able to choose their path to follow not health care providers! What is happening to patient focused care and supporting expressed wishes? As a health care provider you have a choice in terms of employment; choose an area where you feel conformable working rather than denying someone the right to live and have care on their terms. Serve as a support and an advocate, and never a a judge and jury. There is no place for religion in healthcare; care is care and should be provided as needed under all circumstances.

These practices openly permit the discrimination of our most vulnerable populations and hopefully wit support from individuals such as Tim Kaine this will not be allowed to continue. It is tough enough for those in the LGBT community as discrimination and disrespect are sadly still seen in health care settings and other areas. Health care providers should not be legally given this right or protection to discriminate. No healthcare provider should be given a choice in who they want to treat.

Inclusive care for all! I will now step down from my soap box!


9 views0 comments