Twila Brase, head of the Minnesota-based, national patient-doctor rights group, Citizens' Council for Health Freedom, said establishing the new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division is a good move by the administration.
While discrimination based on race, religion and sex are barred under federal law, recent court battles have focused on whether sexual orientation and gender identity are similarly protected.
Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced two major actions to protect life and the conscience rights of Americans. No new efforts to expand such protections were announced.
Pro-life groups said Congress still serves a role in the fight, though they want Republicans to go beyond Mr. Trump's actions and block any public funding to, saying taxpayers shouldn't be keep the clinics afloat - even if federal dollars are prohibited from flowing directly to abortion under longstanding "Hyde Amendment" restrictions. McCarthy told the audience he has "high hopes" that the "arrogance" of a California law known as AB 775 "will be investigated and resolved quickly".
Religious objectors were encouraged by a 2014 Supreme Court decision that a federal requirement that family-owned companies pay for insurance coverage for women's birth control violated a federal statute protecting religious freedom. Since Trump won, the office has received 34 new complaints.
Office director Roger Severino said that from 2008 to November 2016, HHS received 10 such complaints.
The Trump administration has broken with its predecessor on several fronts in this area, and remains in a legal battle over a decision past year to undo the contraceptive mandate under Obamacare, which requires employers to provide employees with insurance coverage for contraceptives. Camilla Taylor, the organization's acting legal director, said Lambda Legal is prepared to continue to bring such challenges.
On the department's homepage under a heading titled "Civil Rights", government text reads, "HHS ensures that people have equal access and opportunities to participate in certain health care and human services programs without unlawful discrimination".
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Registered nurse and MNA policy adviser Carrie Mortrud said she doubts there is pent up demand among providers to deny care they object to.
Over the a year ago, the administration has issued rules to eliminate the guarantee of birth control coverage, which more than 62 million women benefit from as well as expanded the global gag rule, an action that has been shown to increase maternal mortality and morbidity around the globe. Time and time again, we have seen this administration radically redefine religious freedom to impose one set of ultraconservative beliefs on all Americans. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., pledged to keep a close eye on the new enforcement office.
Although the new Health and Human Services division has been created, it's unclear exactly how it will approach its mission.
Zuzinec works in health care.
LGBT-rights organizations suggested some medical providers will be emboldened to shun gay, lesbian and transgender patients.
"Any healthcare worker who has moral objections to providing medically necessary care to an entire vulnerable population is in the wrong line of work", said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD. The department rescinded guidance to states from President Barack Obama's administration that narrowed the circumstances in which they can exclude a medical provider to cases involving fraud, criminal activity or being unfit to provide care. After the news on Thursday, she declared, "This administration isn't increasing freedom - they're paving the way for discrimination".
"When conscience violations and discrimination occur, it is critical that the administration responds with robust enforcement of federal law", said Melanie Israel of the Heritage Foundation. Federal officials said the division will allow HHS to "more vigorously and effectively" enforce laws related to conscience and religious freedom.
Days before the 45 anniversary of the landmark Roe v.