Letter to Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services - Push To Protect Patients From Discrimination


Dear Secretary Azar,

We write regarding the newly established Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services.

We are deeply concerned that the new division could be used to justify discrimination against our constituents, including women, members of the LGBT community, and persons living with HIV. Given the Administration's extremely troubling application of "religious freedom" doctrines, from the guidance issued by the Department of Justice allowing federal agencies and contractors to discriminate on the basis of religious beliefs to the removal of the provision in the Affordable Care Act requiring employers to cover contraceptives, our concern is not without cause. While peoples of faith can have honest disagreements, religious beliefs should not be used to further roll back access to medical care.

Please provide specific guidance clarifying whether the principles of conscience or religious freedom would allow a medical provider or associate receiving public funds to refuse to provide the following services:

1. Birth control prescriptions
2. Emergency contraception
3. Lifesaving abortion
4. In vitro fertilization, including for unmarried patients, same-sex couples, and interracial couples
5. Medical care for a patient living with HIV/AIDS
6. Medical care for a patient who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer
7. Pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV prescriptions
8. HIV testing
9. Hormone therapy for transgender or intersex patients
10. Gender confirmation surgery
11. Navigator assistance for an Affordable Care Act applicant who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer
12. HPV vaccines
13. Mental health care or a reference for mental health services

Please respond with specificity, reassuring us that Americans will not be denied treatment and the medically necessary care they require. Given the critical and often time-sensitive health needs within these communities, along with a history of medical discrimination, we request your urgent attention to this matter.