The division would enforce the legal protection and conduct compliance reviews, audits and other enforcement actions to ensure that health care providers are allowing workers with religious or moral objections to opt out. The Obama administration had bolstered civil rights protections in health care, including barring medical providers as well as insurers from discriminating, based on gender identity, in services or access to coverage. He said the new division would "help guarantee that victims of unlawful discrimination find justice".
This probably won't be a huge issue in large facilities or areas with many health care options, but for those who live in underserved or rural areas, critics say it could jeopardize patients' health.
OCR is already tasked with enforcing several nondiscrimination and conscience protection statutes, including the Church, Coats-Snowe, and Weldon amendments.
"President Trump's Health and Human Services Department is playing with people's lives in their latest attempt to upend LGBTQ rights", Jerame Davis, Executive Director of Pride At Work, said in an emailed statement.
Religious liberty advocates and pro-life groups welcomed the new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division of the OCR, also noting its turnaround from Obama-era policy, illustrated by among other things Obama's February 2011 repeal of conscience protection regulations that had been enacted by President George W. Bush.
"Nurses who decide not to participate on the grounds of conscientious objection must communicate this decision in a timely and appropriate manner, in advance and in time for alternate arrangements to be made for patient care", Cipriano wrote.
James Blumstein, a professor at Vanderbilt Law School in Tennessee, said the administration's plan could remedy what he described as years of overreach by the federal government fighting discrimination against patients at the expense of the religious freedom of healthcare professionals'. The Catholic Health Association of the United States said one in six patients in the country is treated in a Catholic hospital. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, mentioned his own state's law which requires licensed pregnancy centers-even though with a religious affiliation-to offer information about contraception, abortion and prenatal care options, though not to provide them.
"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.
[F] or too long, too many healthcare practitioners have been bullied and discriminated against due to their religious beliefs and moral convictions, leading many of them to wonder what future they have in our medical system. "They're American citizens the same as people who do not choose to practice religious faith".
According to reports, the new division within the Department of Health and Human Services will be devoted to "conscience and religious freedom".