Today, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a final rule that claims to support providers and religious institutions in defending their “statutory conscience” and religious rights. However, more accurately, this final rule gives providers and institutions permission to discriminate against LGBTQ people and deny patients access to all the medical options available to them – including many forms of life-saving care.

Howard Brown Health is staunchly opposed to this final rule and any other efforts seeking to reduce access to healthcare for any person. This broad and discriminatory rule restricts patients’ ability to make their own choices about their own health. And, as with any restriction of rights, the most marginalized of our community will be most harmed as this rule is enforced. For LGBTQ patients and those seeking pregnancy termination and contraception services, the rule may prove a new barrier to access to care.

“Perhaps the most objectionable aspect of this rule is that it puts the personal beliefs of healthcare providers above their sworn duties to follow science, give all medically accurate information, and serve their patients,” said Magda Houlberg, MD, Chief Clinical Officer.  “Despite the rule, medical providers who defy their oath and license should face sanctions, including the loss of license, at the state level.”

This final rule is the next step taken by the President’s Administration to advance the authority of the Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom under HHS. The Division was announced in January 2018, and at that time, Howard Brown vehemently voiced our concerns with its creation and the threat it presents to the foundations of medical ethics – including the danger it poses for patients.

“We hold fast to this belief and will continue to advocate for our patients to receive the best, most comprehensive care we can provide,” said David Ernesto Munar, President and CEO.

For Howard Brown, continuing in this vein not only advances our providers’ decades-long dedication to their patients and our entire community, but also upholds our shared value of self-determination.

Howard Brown Health envisions a future where the health and wellness of LGBTQ people is affirmed with healthcare as a human right; where progressive social policy and enlightened societal norms uplift the lives of LGBTQ people and their families; and where affordable, accessible, and culturally competent care from non-judgmental healthcare professionals is available and provided to all who seek it. Howard Brown is the largest LGBTQ organization in the Midwest, providing primary and specialty healthcare, social services, and infectious disease screenings to more than 35,000 people each year and over 5,665 TGNC-identified patients annually.

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Media Inquiries:
Casey Callich, Communications Manager, Howard Brown Health, (desk) 773.388.1600 ext 1048