Religious Exemptions in Health Care:
A License to Discriminate
Freedom of religion is important, which is why it is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. However, religious freedom doesn’t give anyone the right to discriminate or to hurt others. Recently the current administration announced they will be overhauling the Health and Human Services (HHS) civil rights office as part of a broader plan that will allow health care workers to refuse treatment to a patient based on religious or moral objections.
Existing laws already allow health care providers to put their religious beliefs before patient care. The proposed rule would expand those laws in harmful new ways. The LGBTQ community, women, and other people could be at great risk. According to a recent Center for American Progress survey, LGBTQ people face disturbing rates of health care discrimination, including harassment and denials of care, and often avoid doctor’s offices out of fear of discrimination. LGBTQ community centers continually work to overcome stigmas and discrimination, and this policy would significantly increase the time they spend helping individuals find alternative care.
Use this online toolkit to educate yourself and your community about the dangers of religious exemption in health care settings.
“‘All We Want is Equality’: Religious Exemptions and Discrimination against LGBT People in the United States,” is a report by the Human Rights Watch documenting how recent laws carve out space to discriminate against LGBT people in adoption and foster care, health care, and access to some goods and services. Download the full report by clicking the photo.