Letter to the editor: Religious freedom healthcare group threatens coverage

The new federal unit that is being created under the ruse of freedom of conscience will jeopardize health care. The Conscience and Religious Freedom Division in the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services will help and encourage health care providers who refuse “to perform, accommodate, or assist with certain health care services on religious or moral grounds.” Under the new policy, medical professionals — nurses, doctors, pharmacists — may deny treatment to transgender or other individual patients, refuse to take part in abortions, decline to give women birth control or provide any other health care they claim a religious or “moral” objection to.

The list of workers the division will “protect” is theoretically endless: the anesthesiologist who thinks that an abortion to save the life of the pregnant woman shouldn’t be performed or an ambulance driver with the same objection; the pharmacist opposed to birth control who won’t process prescriptions or even refer to another pharmacist on site; the ER staffer who refuses rape victims the morning-after-pill; the nurse who doesn’t want to run an IV line for a transgendered patient; the physician who refuses to treat a Muslim patient; or a medical worker that won’t adhere to a patient’s end-of-life directives.

By insisting that “the right to live out your religious identity” permits anyone in the medical community to outright deny care, the Trump administration is approving the denial of this same right of conscience to vulnerable populations and many women.

Denying care is no better than inflicting harm when you are a medical professional, and Health and Human Services should be urging medical professionals to adhere to the Hippocratic oath, not a bronze-age book of ignorance, superstition, and bigotry.

It is unethical to use “religious freedom” to impose archaic religious ideals on citizens in order to deny them civil liberties and health care.

Carrie Henson

President, Last Frontier Freethinkers

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