STATEMENT: Religious Refusal Rule Gives Health Care Providers a License to Discriminate, CAP’s Winnie Stachelberg Says

Washington, D.C. — Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a final rule that would allow health care providers and institutions to refuse to provide care based on their religious or moral beliefs. In response, Winnie Stachelberg, executive vice president for External Affairs at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:

This rule effectively gives health care providers a license to discriminate. It shows just how far the Trump-Pence administration will go to weaponize the freedom of religion, harm our nation’s health, and undermine patient care. The rule could potentially let hospitals, doctors, and even staff making an appointment use their personal beliefs to deny a patient standard medical care. It jeopardizes the patient-provider relationship and makes it difficult for patients to access medical services—even ones that are lifesaving. Women could be turned away if they need to access reproductive health care, including abortion and contraceptive services; transgender patients could be refused medical care when they need it most; and women suffering from miscarriages could be left to suffer without access to any necessary medical options.

Freedom of religion is an important cornerstone of our nation. But the Trump-Pence administration is weaponizing this freedom and distorting the protections it provides in order to justify discrimination. Freedom of religion does not allow anyone to impose their beliefs on others or use those beliefs to discriminate. This rule is a threat to the health and well-being of people across the country and around the world, and we must ensure that it does not become a reality.

Related resources:

HHS Budget Would Fund Discrimination at Expense of Civil Rights Enforcement,” by Sharita Gruberg

Discrimination Prevents LGBTQ People from Accessing Health Care,” by Shabab Ahmed Mirza and Caitlin Rooney

Religious Liberty Should Do No Harm,” by Emily London and Maggie Siddiqi

For more information on this topic or to talk to an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at  or 202.478.6327.