New office will help medical providers deny treatment on religious grounds

"Denying patients health care is not liberty", Melling said.

The move reverses Obama-era health care rules that barred health care workers from refusing to treat transgender patients or people who had sought or were seeking abortions.

Reinforcing its strong connection with social conservatives, the Trump administration announced Thursday a new federal office to protect medical providers refusing to participate in abortion, assisted suicide or other procedures on moral or religious grounds.

"This division creates an opportunity for protection for religious minorities and those who hold unpopular beliefs", said Montse Alvarado, executive director of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

Many fear the new rule is also created to specifically target the transgender community, particularly given its author.

Gregory Angelo, president of the Log Cabin Republicans, was among the LGBT groups that criticized the new division as means to enable anti-LGBT discrimination. HHS did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment. "It is an abdication of the department's vital responsibility to the health of all Americans, placing the dogmatic beliefs of a few above the health and lives of the people they serve". Family Research Council President Tony Perkins praised the new division, calling it "another moment in which President Trump's promises are becoming a reality". At the end of 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued an opinion in the case, placing an injunction on the enforcement on the regulation implementing Section 1557 regulation's prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of gender identity and termination of pregnancy on a nationwide basis while the injunction remains in place.

David Stevens, a physician and president of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations, said members of the organization he leads "have been discriminated against and some have even lost positions for speaking out" on matters of conscience.

This special department makes it easier for individuals who for religious reasons want to exclude anyone they deem unworthy the right to health services based on their personal religious beliefs.

"Health care workers have a professional and ethical obligation to provide health care to all who need it" Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. In contrast, the Obama administration had rescinded conscience protections for health care workers, despite pushback from religious leaders.

Some fear there will be doctors who deny fertility treatments to lesbian couples and pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions for certain types of contraceptives, the Times reported. Once again, the Trump-Pence administration has shown they will do everything in their power to undermine the health and survival of transgender people.

The new government office was announced on the eve of Friday's "March for Life", an annual rally in Washington that attracts abortion opponents from across the country.

Others, including Ryan T. Anderson of the Heritage Foundation, have argued that this negative portrayal of the new division and its conscience protections are inaccurate.

Although the civil-rights office has traditionally received few complaints alleging conscience violations, Health and Human Services acting Secretary Eric Hargan on Thursday painted a picture of clinicians under government coercion to violate the dictates of conscience.

  • Leroy Wright