Today the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) finalized the issuance of a new religious conscience rule. Despite receiving over 200,000 comments opposing changes to the original rule, the administration has officially given health care providers the green light to deny care and critical services because of their own personal beliefs. A patient's health should ALWAYS come first. Millions of Americans, including women and the LGBTQ population, are now at risk of being denied access to reproductive care and other basic health services.
Freedom of religion is important, which is why it is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. However, religious freedom should not give anyone the right to discriminate or to hurt others. And existing laws already allow health care providers to put their religious beliefs before patient care. This rule is dangerous and discriminatory.