WASHINGTON —The Department of Health and Human Services issued a final rule today that aims to dramatically expand the ability of health care institutions and workers to refuse to provide medical services if they have a moral or religious objection. Under this policy people needing reproductive care, including abortions; transgender people; and others could be denied essential medical services.

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

“Once again, this Administration shows itself to be  determined to use religious liberty to harm communities it deems less worthy of equal treatment under the law. This rule threatens to prevent people from accessing critical medical care and may endanger people’s lives. Religious liberty is a fundamental right, but it doesn’t include the right to discriminate or harm others. Denying patients health care is not religious liberty. Discriminating against patients based on their gender or gender expression is not religious liberty.  Medical standards, not religious belief, should guide medical care.

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