LGBTQ parents, health professionals, and allies from across the country answered Family Equality Council’s call to action and submitted comments to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on its proposed rule on “conscience rights” of health care providers before this week’s deadline. Family Equality Council is very concerned the rule would allow sweeping, dangerous exemptions to patient protections that would encourage health care providers to deny health care to LGBTQ people, our children, women, and others.
Family Equality Council has documented the horrific impact of health care discrimination on LGBTQ people and our children in numerous amicus briefs before the Supreme Court and appeals courts. In Family Equality Council’s comments to submitted to HHS, CEO Rev. Stan J. Sloan enumerates the harms that our families experience when we are discriminated against in health care. Sloan also documents the particular harms that LGBTQ foster youth face in health care discrimination.
LGBTQ foster youth are dramatically overrepresented in foster care and are much more likely than their non-LGBTQ peers to be placed in group homes and experience hospitalizations. They are dependent on those who provide their care and have very few alternatives or avenues for seeking alternate care. In this situation, denial of affirming mental health services, transition-related care for transgender foster youth, and refusal to provide reproductive health care can be particularly harmful.
Comments submitted to HHS due to Family Equality Council’s Call to Action include the following:
“As a member of the LGBTQ community and the mother of 4 children with special needs, my interaction with the health care community is frequent and continuous. Being a special needs mother is difficult enough without wondering if my children will be denied access to appropriate and swift care simply due to who their mother loves.”
“When my spouse and I had our son, we were lucky enough to live in an area where the hospital staff was welcoming to same-sex couples. Our son was born via C-section, and my spouse had to stay in the hospital for several days afterward. If the hospital had not welcomed our family, we would have had to seek care at a greater distance from our home and with more stress on our family–stress that would not have been good for our newborn son.”
— Anonymous, Massachusetts
“Me and my family depend on our ability to get health care anywhere in the country. We live in NJ, but our twin boys were born in Idaho and they were 3lbs 12 oz each. They needed a substantial amount of healthcare. They were in the NICU for 7 weeks. It is frightening to think they may have been denied that care because of who their fathers are! Please oppose this [rule]. Thank you.”
— J.G., New Jersey
“As a trans person, I already have to drive over an hour and a half to find the nearest doctor who will even see me, or treat me with any level of human dignity. As a poor person, I often don’t have the funds to drive that far – I miss appointments, I have to take care of severe illnesses and injuries as best I can by myself, and I don’t get the care I need nearly as often as I need it. As a result, I am almost always sick. I hang on to a common cold for months. Some bones have fused together from healing incorrectly. My autoimmune disorder (rheumatoid arthritis) has become unmanageable. All because I cannot find a doctor near me who is willing to treat trans people with any modicum of respect. By making this discrimination legal, my situation, and those of people like me, would only worsen.”
— N.T., Pennsylvania
“I’ve worked in health care all my life. I’ve NEVER felt it was my right to *deny* someone care because they couldn’t pay, didn’t look like me or maybe prayed to a different god.
Truly … I can’t believe this is even being considered.
Ill advised, cruel, and against everything health care workers stand for.”
“I am a lesbian with chronic major depression and general anxiety disorder. I get my medication through my primary care provider. Were I to be discriminated against and lose access to my medication, my life would not be livable. First, do no harm. Discrimination is harmful to all and for some unbearable.
I oppose the proposed regulation. A person’s beliefs regarding The LGBTQ community should have no bearing on our access to quality healthcare.”
As a physician, I understand that sickness is part of the human condition. I must not judge my patients on any level. When a sick individual comes to me, I do all I can to make him/her well.
I don’t care if the patient is a criminal or someone who has never committed any crime. I don’t care if the patient hates everyone or love everyone.
I don’t care if the patient is any specific ethnicity, straight, or LGBT.
My complete focus must be helping that person get better.
If the government allows healthcare providers to determine whom they will treat based upon their own beliefs, this places the government between the doctor and the patient. This completely flouts every oath a doctor (or other provider) must take when taking on the responsibility and privilege of caring for others.
Plus, the taxpayers paid for the education of every physician. Why should the physician then be allowed to say he/she will administer only to some.
This proposed to rule is blatantly immoral and doesn’t represent what American stands for.
Do not implement this.”
— C.G., New York