Across the country, there is a growing effort to create religious exemptions in many areas of life. Religious exemptions are carve outs to existing laws and policies that aim to allow people, organizations, or businesses to be exempt from a law if they claim that the law violates their religious or moral beliefs. In the context of healthcare, these exemptions result in doctors medical providers refusing to provide medical care. These “religious refusals” can even allow hospital administrators to keep a doctor from providing the best care to their patients because the hospital objects to providing that care, even if the doctor doesn’t.
For example, some exemptions mean women could be denied birth control or other health care coverage because of their employer’s religious beliefs, and LGBT people can be denied basic services because of a doctor’s disapproval of who they are or the care they need. Allowing healthcare providers to ignore standard medical best practices and instead put their personal beliefs before patient health has the potential to gravely harm millions of people and their families’ health. Patients’ health and wellbeing should always come first.
MAP is sounding the alarm. Did you know there is a coordinated and widespread push to pass a variety of religious exemptions laws that would give medical professionals a license to discriminate against their patients? The Trump Administration, in particular, has made a dramatic effort to insert religious refusals into peoples’ health care. Earlier this year, the Administration’s announced a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within the Department of Health and Human Services, and
proposed rules that seek to radically expand the ability of health care providers and institutions to deny patients care based on religious or moral beliefs. And tomorrow, March 27, the comment period this dangerous new proposed rule closes. Click here to share your story with the Trump Administration and let them know that personal beliefs should never override patient care.
These religious refusal laws are undermining the very foundation of our medical system, which should be to put patients first and to do no harm.
To bring attention to the coordinated strategy to insert religious refusals into the health care of millions of people, the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) and the National Center for Transgender Equality released a new report, Religious Refusals in Health Care: A Prescription for Disaster. This new report examines the impact of religious refusals on people’s health and wellbeing, and showcases the broad and dangerous implications of these refusals on LGBT people, women, people of color, low-income people, religious minorities, and more.
What can happen when health providers are able to refuse treatment and choose which patients they wish to serve?
Creating a health care system when patients’ health comes second to health care providers’ personal beliefs.
Restricting access to a wide range of reproductive health care, including emergency care.
Allowing healthcare providers to limit information shared with patients
Refusing health care for patients because of who they are, including women, transgender people, LGBT people, and children of LGBT parents.
Permitting refusals of care for sexual health, including sexually-transmitted infection and HIV-related health care.