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Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham

Representing the 1st District of New Mexico

Rep. Lujan Grisham Introduces Legislation To Abolish HHS Discriminatory Division

Feb 27, 2018
Press Release

Rep. Lujan Grisham Introduces Legislation To Abolish HHS Discriminatory Division

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham introduced the “Eliminating the HHS Discrimination Division of 2018” which would abolish the newly created Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  The Trump Administration’s new division and accompanying proposed rule entitled, “Protecting Statutory Conscience Rights in Health Care; Delegations of Authority” have been widely criticized due to concerns that they will enable discrimination throughout the U.S. health care system.

This legislation has been endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the National Women’s Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, Equality New Mexico, the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico, the New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and the National Center for Transgender Equality.

“A patient’s health and wellness should always come first and the Trump Administration has no business facilitating discrimination and creating barriers for medically necessary health care that will ultimately harm patient health and endanger lives,” Rep. Lujan Grisham said.  “This Division was created with the sole purpose of allowing hospitals, doctors, nurses, and even administrative staff to determine a patient’s care based on their personal religious beliefs, not on what is best for the patient.  I am proud to introduce this legislation to ensure that every American, regardless of their gender identity, reproductive health care choices, or need for any type of medical care, has access to quality, comprehensive health care.”

Louise Melling, Deputy Legal Director for ACLU, said “We applaud Congresswoman Lujan Grisham for taking a stand against the Administration’s dangerous move toward prioritizing religious belief over health care. This Administration has made clear its intentions: To countenance discrimination and harm in the name of religious liberty. Medical standards, not religious beliefs, should guide our health care policies. No one should be humiliated, demeaned, and left to suffer because of who they are or the health care they need.”

Gretchen Borchelt, Vice President for Reproductive Rights and Health for NWLC, said “The Trump Administration’s new HHS division is not about protecting religious liberty. Instead, it uses religion as an excuse to attack the rights, health care, and equality of patients, especially women. We commend Congresswoman Lujan Grisham’s bold move to abolish this division and stand with patients to ensure that their providers’ personal beliefs do not determine the care they receive. HHS should use its resources to enforce non-discrimination laws that make sure all patients get the care they need.”

Adrian Carver, Executive Director for Equality New Mexico, said “The Trump Administration’s effort to use religion to justify discrimination is not a new concept, but to extend it to the health care system puts lives at risk.  This bill is an effort to put the needs of patients first, regardless of their religion, race, ethnicity, color, sexual orientation, gender identity, family status, or age.  Everyone should have the dignity to access the health care and social services that they need to lead healthy, productive lives.”

Adrien Lawyer, Co-Director and Co-Founder of the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico, said “The groundbreaking US Transgender Survey has reported that 33% of transgender people who saw a health care provider in the past year reported having at least one negative experience related to being transgender, with higher rates for people of color and people with disabilities. This included being refused treatment, verbally harassed, physically or sexually assaulted, or having to teach the provider about transgender people in order to get appropriate care. In the past year, 23% of respondents did not see a doctor when they needed to because of fear of being mistreated as a transgender person, and 33% did not see a doctor when needed because they could not afford it. The existence of a Conscience and Religious Freedom Division will only compound these very serious barriers to necessary medical care and access to other needed services for a population that is already experiencing some of the most severe discrimination and violence in our country. The Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico strongly supports Rep. Lujan Grisham’s effort to abolish this dangerous and unnecessary entity.”

Joan Lamunyon Sanford, Executive Director of the NM Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, said “The NM Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice stands with Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham because we believe that a fundamental value of our shared religious traditions is treating others the way we want to be treated. Laws that contradict that core value violate the human dignity of us all.  Rep. Lujan Grisham knows that the right to practice our religion does not give us the right to impose our religion on others.”

Harper Jean Tobin, Director of Policy for the National Center for Transgender Equality, said, "In health care, patients' needs and health should always come first. We all value religious freedom, but refusing care to patients in need makes a mockery of values we all share. The HHS Office for Civil Rights should be stopping this kind of unlawful discrimination, not promoting it."