Forward Together Statement on the creation of a new “Conscience and Religious Freedom” Division of the Department of Health and Human Services

On Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services announced the creation of a new “Conscience and Religious Freedom” Division. This division would protect healthcare providers who express religious or moral objections to providing comprehensive healthcare without discrimination.

Healthcare providers shouldn’t be allowed to shame queer people, trans people, or patients seeking abortion care about their health needs or decisions. Our families should be able to rely on healthcare providers to offer unbiased information about all of our options without judgment, so that we can make the best decisions about our health.

This new federal office will deeply impact service provision in rural areas. In a recent healthcare survey we conducted with partners in New Mexico, we found nearly 40% of people living in rural areas already faced serious barriers to healthcare due to transportation issues, cost and provider shortages. What will happen to our families if the only healthcare provider within hundreds of miles is allowed to refuse us because of who we are or the type of healthcare we need?

At Forward Together, we believe our families and communities are strongest when all of us have dignity, safety and self-determination. A new federal office devoted to helping healthcare providers discriminate has no place in our government. This administration is doubling down on hate at the expense of the health and well-being of the people of this country.

Kalpana Krishnamurthy, National Field and Policy Director
Forward Together