As a healthcare professional, I am writing to express my stance on the recently announced “Conscience and Religious Freedom Division” of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) within the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
While I understand the intention behind the creation of the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, I believe that it will be ineffective for the population I serve as a healthcare professional. The office’s stated goal is to protect religious beliefs, but in practice, it could lead to individuals refusing to provide medical assistance based on those beliefs, which could result in a significant impediment to access to medical care for vulnerable populations, such as women and LGBTQ individuals.
My opposition to this division stems from ethical principles, including the principle of non-maleficence, which states that a healthcare professional should not cause harm to a patient, and the principle of beneficrimination, which states that healthcare professionals should provide care to all individuals regardless of their race, gender, or sexual orientation. These ethical principles are central to my practice and serve as the foundation for providing quality medical care to all patients.
In addition to these ethical principles, I also reference pivotal Supreme Court decisions, such as the case of Griswold v. Connecticut, which established the right to privacy, and the case of Roe v. Wade, which upheld the right to abortion. These cases set a precedent for protecting individual autonomy and ensuring that patients have the right to access medical care without fear of discrimination.
I recommend that the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division be reevaluated and revised to better balance the protection of religious beliefs with the access to medical care for all individuals. We cannot allow for discrimination against women and LGBTQ individuals to occur under the guise of protecting religious beliefs.
In conclusion, I believe that the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division is ineffective for the population I serve and goes against the ethical principles and Supreme Court decisions that guide my practice. I strongly urge you to consider my recommendations for reevaluating and revising the division to ensure that all individuals have access to medical care without fear of discrimination.