ICYMI: Nadler Denounces New HHS Office Designed To Help Healthcare Workers Discriminate Against Patients

Jan 19, 2018 Issues: Civil Rights, Health Care

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Yesterday, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) released the following statement denouncing the Trump Administration’s decision to reorganize the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to focus on defending health care workers who refuse—because of their personal moral and religious beliefs—to care for patients based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, or reproductive health choices:

“The Trump Administration’s announcement today is an attack on the values this country should stand for. This decision by HHS puts the full weight of the federal government behind those who discriminate against men and women at their most vulnerable moments.   

“In 1993, I was a leader in passing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), and I have long been an outspoken advocate for religious freedom. But RFRA was designed as a shield, not a sword. The law is intended to protect personal religious practices and beliefs from government interference, not grant carte blanche for those in positions of authority to impose their own beliefs on others.  This new policy has no constitutional or moral basis in our country.

“Today’s announcement isn’t about religious freedom. It’s about creating a system where LGBTQ people are discriminated against, women are refused reproductive care, and every American’s personal health care decisions are second guessed and ignored based on their provider’s personal views – including in federally funded programs. With this reorganization, the Trump Administration is turning an office dedicated to ending discrimination in health care into an office designed to enable those who would discriminate.

“The Constitution clearly protects religious beliefs and practices, but it also ensures that every American is treated equally under the law. President Trump, Acting Secretary Hargan, and OCR Director Serevino would do well to remember that.”