by Kelle Keyles
Photography Courtesy of the Boston University School of Medicine
When ideology becomes more important than human lives, the most vulnerable suffer. Is a person’s religious freedom worth more than someone else’s life? Is the intangible more valuable than a living, breathing human being?
Trump’s new Executive order says they are.
Per Executive Order 13798, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is adding a Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom to the Office for Civil Rights. This document provides protections for health care professionals who refuse to prescribe birth control, treat patients who have had abortions or are part of the LGBTQ+ community due to their religious or moral objections.
The Conscience and Religious Freedom section of the HHS.gov website says, “Conscience protections apply to health care providers who refuse to perform, accommodate, or assist with certain health care services on religious or moral grounds.”
First do no harm—that is the professional oath doctors and medical professionals take. Their jobs are to save lives. These implementations will add an exception to that sacred oath. First do no harm, except if the person has had an abortion, wants birth control, is transgender, gay, gender fluid etc. First do no harm, unless your religion gets in the way.
The new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division describes it as, “Federal statutes protect health care provider conscience rights and prohibit recipients of certain federal funds from discriminating against health care providers who refuse to participate in these services based on moral objections or religious beliefs.” Basically, they prohibit recipients of federal funds from discriminating against healthcare workers who discriminate against other people, as long as they cite religion or morals as the reason why.
Human lives should come before any ideals or beliefs. People sworn to save lives should not receive protection that allows them to pick and choose which sick or dying patients they treat.
The HHS.gov website is littered with mandates that “prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, race, color, national origin, disability, sex, or religion.” They say nothing about sexual orientation, gender identity, or past medical history.
Will doctors now be able to ask your sexual orientation before deciding to accept you as a patient? Going to another doctor or medical professional is not an option for a large number of Americans, especially those in small towns with only one doctor for a hundred miles. They will be able to refuse to treat a patient that exercised their legal right in the past to get an abortion or even take birth control.
These “protections” will be detrimental to the health and lives of some of our most vulnerable communities. Essentially, our medical health professionals will be able to play judge, jury and executioner: judging us based on our past, jurying who we are or who we love and allowing us to go without medical care because of it.
Just walking down the street can be a dangerous situation for women and the LGBTQ+ community; this order will make walking into a doctor’s office just as dangerous. Without open and honest communication and trust between a doctors and patients, major medical issues can go unnoticed and therefore, untreated.
Women and the LGBTQ+ community need more protection from discrimination and hate, not those who discriminate.