The Department of Health and Human Services announced in May its final “conscience rule” excusing health care personnel from participating in procedures to which they have religious or moral objections — but HHS has now postponed implementation of the rule, according to The Hill.
Originally set to be implemented on July 22, HHS is delaying the new procedures until November 22 because of an onslaught of lawsuits the department received in the wake of President Trump's announcement of the “conscience rule.” Numerous organizations like Lambda Legal and Democrat-led states like New York and cities like San Francisco filed suit against HHS, objecting to the rule's risk of putting women and LGBTQ health in jeopardy.
Many fear the new rule will not only engender confusion but encourage conservative doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other health professionals to deny contraception services, transition-related care for transgender people, and even drugs used in PrEP, an HIV prevention regimen. The situation could be incredibly dire for women and LGBTQ people in rural areas, where there are far fewer service providers than in urban areas.
“In the Obama administration, we were focused on expanding access to health care through the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the full and balanced enforcement of anti-discrimination and provider conscience laws,” Jocelyn Samuels, executive director of UCLA's Williams Institute, a think tank on LGBTQ issues, said in a statement in May.
“By contrast, this administration is simultaneously trying to restrict universal access to care through attacks on the ACA and expand the authorization for denials of care by religious providers. These actions stand to undermine the health and wellbeing of vulnerable communities, including LGBT people.”
Trump announced the rule to a group of fawning conservatives during a ceremony for the National Day of Prayer.