January 18, 2018

WASHINGTON — The Department of Health and Human Services announced the creation of the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division today, demonstrating the administration’s commitment to laws that license discrimination against women, LGBT people, and others. The broad language could open the door for health care institutions and providers to refuse to treat women seeking abortions, people seeking sterilizations, and others.

Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, had the following reaction:

“Today’s announcement shows us, once again, that the administration is doubling down on licensing discrimination against women and LGBT people, all in the name of religion. The administration has already shown its hand earlier this year by adopting rules that permit virtually all manner of businesses to refuse to comply with laws providing contraception coverage.

“We may not know exactly what this new division will look like in practice, but we do know that this means they prioritize religious liberty over the health and civil rights of women, transgender people, and others. They are prioritizing providers’ beliefs over patients’ health and lives. This administration isn’t increasing freedom — they’re paving the way for discrimination.”
 

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