The Trump Administration Just Said Religious Doctors Can Refuse Medical Treatment for Patients

The rules are the latest “conscience protections” by the Trump administration.

President Donald Trump speaks during a National Day of Prayer event Thursday.AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

Health care providers can refuse to provide medical care, including contraception, abortion, and procedures for transgender patients, that violates their religious or moral beliefs, according to regulations published by the Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday. President Donald Trump announced the finalized “conscience protection” rules during remarks for the National Day of Prayer, saying, “Together, we are building a culture that cherishes the dignity and worth of human life.” 

The rules specifically mention abortion, sterilization, and assisted suicide as services that health care providers can opt out of performing for religious reasons. The rules only make a passing mention of gender, saying that the department had received a number of comments asking whether the part of the rule that allows doctors to refuse to perform sterilizations on moral grounds included sterilizations because of gender dysphoria, such as a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus). The department references related cases, and says if it receives any complaints about having to perform a sterilization despite moral objections, it will review them on a case-by-case basis. According to Politico, the administration is also expected to issue more specific rules that would roll back discrimination protections for trans patients.  

The Trump administration has enacted several so-called conscience protections to permit discrimination. Last year, the HHS Office of Civil Rights created a new division focused on protecting health care workers’ religious freedom. 

“Freedom of religion is a fundamental American value and is already protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution,” said Adam Sonfield, senior policy manager at the Guttmacher Institute, in a statement. “But that freedom doesn’t give individuals and organizations the right to impose their beliefs on others, to block patients from receiving information and care, or to discriminate. That’s not freedom of religion, that’s weaponizing ‘religious liberty.’”

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate