Former Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards has attacked the Trump Administration’s push for freedom of conscience among health care workers, saying it is “shameful” for doctors to opt out of performing abortions “because of religious, moral, or personal objections.”
Promising “legal challenges” to federal support for freedom of conscience and religion, Ms. Richards blasted the new direction at the Department of Health and Human Services in a fundraising email letter to abortion supporters.
In her appeal titled “Discrimination, plain and simple. Fight back now,” Richards describes the launch of a new “Conscience and Religious Freedom Division” within HHS as legalized discrimination that “will do nothing but hurt patients.”
President Trump’s latest move is “truly shameful,” Richards wrote, “a proposed rule released by HHS seeks to encourage health care workers to discriminate against patients by refusing to provide care because of religious, moral, or personal objections.”
“Health care workers might refuse to treat … a person seeking an abortion,” she lamented.
During her tenure as head of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards oversaw some 3.5 million abortions, while fighting tooth and nail to ensure that American taxpayers be forced to finance their work.
In her letter, Richards urges Planned Parenthood donors to send comments to HHS protesting the “outrageous new proposal,” indicating a letter writing drive as “our best opportunity to stop it before it becomes the law.”
“The number of comments we collect can be used in legal challenges to stop these attacks — so your submission really matters (and it only takes two minutes!),” she wrote.
“In each and every one of Trump’s attacks on reproductive health care, it’s patients who are hurt the most,” she said. “From people living with HIV to trans people to those seeking abortions, these attacks make it even harder for people to access care.”
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced its new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division “to restore federal enforcement of our nation’s laws that protect the fundamental and unalienable rights of conscience and religious freedom.”
“The creation of the new division will provide HHS with the focus it needs to more vigorously and effectively enforce existing laws protecting the rights of conscience and religious freedom, the first freedom protected in the Bill of Rights,” HHS declared in a Jan. 18 statement.
“No one should be forced to choose between helping sick people and living by one’s deepest moral or religious convictions, and the new division will help guarantee that victims of unlawful discrimination find justice,” said Roger Severino, director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR). “For too long, governments big and small have treated conscience claims with hostility instead of protection, but change is coming and it begins here and now,” he said.
Just prior to the announcement of the new HHS division, President Trump declared January 16, 2018, as “Religious Freedom Day.”
“No American — whether a nun, nurse, baker, or business owner — should be forced to choose between the tenets of faith or adherence to the law,” Mr. Trump wrote in a presidential proclamation.
During the lead-up to the 2016 elections, Trump had promised to defend the religious freedom of Americans, criticizing Hillary Clinton’s wish to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to pay for contraceptives in their health care plan “and having the government fine them heavily if they continue to refuse to abide by this onerous mandate.”
“That is a hostility to religious liberty you will never see in a Trump Administration,” he said in a letter dated Oct. 5, 2016.
In his proclamation, the President stated that the American Founders, “seeking refuge from religious persecution, believed in the eternal truth that freedom is not a gift from the government, but a sacred right from Almighty God.”
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