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“Since Day One, Trump-Pence Administration has been Working to Take Away the Rights of People of Color, LGBTQ people, and Women”

Washington D.C. -- Today, the Trump-Pence administration took a significant step to block access to care for women, LGBTQ people and other marginalized people by setting up a Department of Health and Human Services office designed to ensure that individuals can be denied access to basic health care and information based on their providers’ personal beliefs. The administration has made clear its priority to allow providers to discriminate against their patients for a variety of reasons, including their gender identity, sexual orientation, or because they decide to access to a safe, legal abortion. The agency charged with protecting the health of all Americans instead will devote its resources to deny essential, potentially life-saving care to people of all identities. Tellingly, the announcement today does not include one word dedicated to ensuring protections are in place for patients who are on the receiving end of these denials.

Quote from Dana Singiser, Vice President of Public Policy and Government Relations:

This is the Trump-Pence administration using the government office whose mission is to protect against discrimination, to instead to give providers license to discriminate. Planned Parenthood condemns this action. 

“This is the latest example of this administration’s efforts to block women, transgender people, and other marginalized communities from accessing health care. No patient should have to fear that their very identity could prevent them from getting the health care they need.

“While this move is shocking, it’s not surprising. This is a part of a systematic agenda by the Trump-Pence administration to advance their own ideology at the expense of all Americans.

This action is a part of a systematic attack on people’s health and rights by HHS and this administration. For the past year, the Trump-Pence administration has been passing policies that take away the rights of people of color, LGBTQ people, and women. Since taking office, the Trump-Pence administration has:

  • Issued a rule allowing employers to deny birth control coverage to their employees
  • Cut teen pregnancy prevention programs
  • Ordered the U.S. Department of Defense to stop providing gender-affirming treatment to transgender military troops
  • Taken away protections for sexual assault survivors
  • Tried to block women from getting care at Planned Parenthood
  • Promoted abstinence-only programs 

The administration today also altered the mission statement of the Office of Civil Rights to focus on religious refusals — placing that more prominently than the office’s former statement that its mission was “to improve the health and well-being of people across the nation.” It’s been reported by Politico that HHS would proactively audit hospitals and doctor’s offices to ensure policies are in place allowing providers to deny information and care to patients based on their personal beliefs. The idea that HHS would start sending federal workers to investigate health care providers to ensure that patients face discrimination is outright disturbing.

Roger Severino, the man overseeing the HHS Office of Civil Rights, is advancing his own ideological agenda at the expense of the people he is tasked with serving. Severino has called to end protections for transgender people, is a staunch opponent to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, including contraception and abortion, and has also called for the defunding of Planned Parenthood.

People’s health is on the line. For example, Tamesha Means from Michigan was rushed to Mercy Health Partners in Muskegon, Michigan, when her water broke after only 18 weeks of pregnancy. Based on the bishops' religious directives, the hospital sent her home twice even though Tamesha was in excruciating pain; there was virtually no chance that her pregnancy could survive, and continuing the pregnancy posed significant risks to her health.

Mainstream medical groups have recognized the negative effects refusal laws can have on patients and have called for patient protections when religious refusals may compromise care. In fact, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has affirmed that refusals should be limited if they constitute an imposition of religious or moral beliefs on patients, negatively affect a patient's health, are based on scientific misinformation, or create or reinforce racial or socioeconomic inequalities. 

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Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.

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