Dr. Lauren Beach Speaks Out About “Conscience Objection” Rule’s Threat to Patient Health

DO NO HARM. No #Rx for Discrimination

This Thursday, the Trump administration finalized a new rule enabling medical providers to discriminate against patients based on their “conscience” or personal or religious beliefs. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) argues that enforcement of the rule will remove barriers to entry for people who want to join health care professions but have moral and religious objections to certain types of care or procedures.

Lauren Beach, J.D., Ph.D., the Associate Director of EDIT and a postdoctoral research fellow at ISGMH stated: “The effect of this rule will be that people from many different groups that already face challenges with accessing high quality and inclusive healthcare will be disproportionately negatively impacted by the rule. LGBTQ people who read about this rule may fear – and their healthcare providers may interpret – that the rule is a license to discriminate against LGBTQ patients. Notably, despite this risk, HHS also declined to include in the rule any clarification that the rule was not designed to result in discrimination against LGBT people.”

The 440-page rule has already drawn immediate condemnation from civil and reproductive rights groups, and medical and law centers alike. It affects every position from the receptionist to the boards of hospitals, pharmacists, ambulance drivers, and more. The rule will go into effect in two months, but may ultimately be challenged in court. This all comes after the Trump Administration filed a formal request to reverse all of the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday. This targets the health insurance for at least 21 million Americans, including those with pre-existing medical conditions.

“Importantly, this rule does not limit the ability of healthcare systems to provide care to LGBTQ patients,” Lauren Beach went on to say. “It does, however, muddy the waters about who is welcome and who is not within our healthcare systems. I recommend that hospital and health systems who have made commitments to providing high quality, inclusive care to LGBTQ people reaffirm these commitments publicly to let people know they put patients first.”