WASHINGTON, D.C. (Observer Update) - The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights group, today commended the Obama administration for beginning the process to repeal the Department of Health and Human Services regulations regarding “provider conscience” and urged the Administration to repeal the regulations in their entirety. These regulations were rushed through the regulatory process by the Bush administration and took effect just days before President Bush left office.
The regulations purport to interpret federal law to allow a health care provider to refuse to provide any health care service or information for a religious or moral reason. These regulations could impair LGBT patients’ access to care services if interpreted to permit providers to choose patients based upon sexual orientation, gender identity or family structure. The regulations also threaten women’s access to comprehensive health care by permitting pharmacists to refuse to dispense contraception even when doing so significantly burdens the patient’s access, or to refuse to participate in an emergency abortion even when the woman’s health is at risk. The regulations override many state laws protecting patients’ access to medical services.
“These ill-conceived regulations sacrifice patients’ right to medical care,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “We commend the Obama administration for acting quickly to review these regulations and urge the Administration to repeal them in their entirety. A patient’s access to health care services should not depend on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
HRC submitted comments objecting to these regulations when they were proposed, asking the Bush administration to amend them to protect patients while preserving religious liberty. We are encouraged that the Department of Health and Human Services will be conducting a thorough review of these regulations.
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