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American Atheists Condemns HHS for Putting Religion Ahead of Health Care

Cranford, NJ—Today, American Atheists denounced a new “conscience rule” released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This final rule, which will now go into effect, allows health care providers, including hospitals and pharmacies, to deny treatment on the basis of religious disapproval.

“This new rule enshrines extreme religious viewpoints into law at the expense of the health and safety of millions of Americans,” said Alison Gill, Vice President for Legal and Policy. “With these changes, the Trump administration is putting the religious dogma of a few fundamentalists above the lives and well-being of women, elderly people, LGBTQ people, and others by allowing doctors and hospitals to refuse to provide necessary medical care to patients they disapprove of.”

“This has nothing to do with protecting religious freedom,” said Nick Fish, President of American Atheists. “This is about the Trump administration doing everything in its power to advance the extreme ideology of religious supremacists, even if it will result in the deaths of women and LGBTQ people. It is sad that this president is so transparently willing to trade lives for Evangelical votes.”

“Discrimination in health care is far too common already, and the Trump Administration is making it worse,” added Gill. “For millions of Americans who live in small towns across the nation, finding a different hospital, doctor, or pharmacist simply isn’t an option, especially when it’s an emergency.”

When this religious refusal rule was first proposed in January 2018, American Atheists stridently opposed it. This rule will allow a much broader range of people and entities involved in patient care—including insurance companies, receptionists scheduling appointments, and hospital administrators—to use religion to justify limiting patients’ access to needed health care.

“This attack on health care and access to reproductive services is just the latest action by the Trump administration to allow religion to be used as a weapon against the most vulnerable,” said Fish. “The American people see this for what it is—a cynical attempt to put religion above policy and dogma above people’s lives.”