Do No Harm: Stand Against Discrimination in Healthcare!

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Last week, the Trump administration announced new regulations and the creation of a new office called the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division that will be responsible for handling complaints from health-care workers who do not want to perform medical procedures, such as an abortion or assisted death, because it violates their religious or moral beliefs. The rule and the office’s website focus on medical procedures that are not necessarily specific to people who are LGBTQ or to people living with HIV, but many of us worry, with good reason, that these rules and this new division of the Health and Human Services Department will encourage health care providers to actively discriminate against members of our community under the guise of religious freedom.

 These regulations, and the apparent goal of this new office, are in direct opposition to our mission to provide quality comprehensive health and wellness services to members of the LGBTQ community—many of whom have already been directly harmed from the denial of services or their reluctance to seek health care because of homophobia and transphobia. This is particularly true for people who identify as transgender or gender non-conforming, the majority of whom have experienced discrimination, unequal treatment, and injustice throughout their lives.

Our community has been targeted for hate and bias, unfairness, and inequality in the workplace, in public accommodations, in education, in housing, insurance, credit and lending, in every aspect of our lives. This cannot continue, this must not continue, we will not allow it to continue in this democracy which strives to create a more perfect union for all of us, not just a select group of us. At Mazzoni Center we stand for fairness, justice, and equality in an environment we have created that is safe and welcoming for members of the LGBTQ community and their allies. We have been doing this for 38 years and we plan to be here providing quality healthcare and related services as long as there is a need to do so. Since this new Division was announced we have been assessing the best strategic approach, in communication with other individuals and organizations, to contribute our voice to opposing this rule and to ensure that people can access the care they need without fear of discrimination.

We consistently play an active, if not always highly visible, role in fighting actions and laws that harm our community—the ban against trans people serving in the U.S. military is one such recent example. However, in partnership with Planned Parenthood, SEIU Healthcare Union, and Representative Brian Sims, I will be sharing what you have just read at a rally in front of our building. All staff are invited to join us as we voice our objections to the federal government’s new regulations and the formation of the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division of HHS. This distortion of religious freedom and our constitutional protections is simply unacceptable and must not stand. Please lend your voice to this fight for our rights, our freedoms, our very lives in front of Mazzoni Center’s new building this afternoon.

Thank you.

Steve