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March 19, 2009


Remember towards the end of last year when the Bush administration pushed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to finalize regulations that would make it possible for doctors, hospitals, nurses, pharmacist and virtually all other health care workers and institutions to refuse treatment and/or services for any patient or procedure they deem "morally objectionable?"

Well, they did. And what that meant was that you could be denied medical care and services for no other reason than your sexuality. That, in itself, is what I would consider one of the most morally bankrupt actions that a so-called "professional" could possibly perpetrate on any human being.

Now, according to a posting at Queers United, the Obama administration is considering whether or not to rescind those regulations.

Granted, this is something that should be a "no brainer." But politics being what it is, HHS needs our help to do this. They have issued a “proposed rule” that would rescind these bizarre and inhumane regulations but in order for this to be finalized, they have to allow for public comments. The public has through April 9th to respond.

Now, you can bet that the right wing, religious zealots and all their blind little minions will flood the HHS with objections. In order to combat their efforts, QU has suggested the following:

We are encouraging HRC members and supporters to tell HHS that a patient’s access to health care services should not depend on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The public can submit their comments to HHS through April 9 by emailing proposedrescission@hhs.gov

TAKE ACTION: Cut and paste the text of the letter below into an MS Word document (.doc) and email it as an attachment to proposedrescission@hhs.gov.

Here is a sample letter:

March, 2009

Office of Public Health and Science
Department of Health and Human Services
Attention: Rescission Proposal Comments
Hubert H. Humphrey Building
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Room 716G
Washington, DC 20201

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments to the Department of Health and Human Service’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) with regard to rescission of the “Provider Conscience Regulation.” I support the right of all people to access health services without discrimination. Because these regulations could interfere with access to health care and promote discrimination against the very patients that federal funds are meant to serve, I urge the Department of Health and Human Services to rescind these regulations in their entirety.

I am concerned these regulations could limit the LGBT community’s access to services. The regulations state that the existing religious refusal clause allows a health care provider to refuse to assist in the performance of any service with which they have a religious or moral objection. Creating such a blanket right to refuse could severely impair the LGBT community’s ability to obtain health services.

Furthermore, the regulations do not require that patients are informed of their treatment options. Under the regulations, a doctor may refuse to administer an HIV test to a patient because he is gay. In fact, the doctor could not only refuse this service, but decline to tell the patient where he would be able to obtain testing. Clearly, this puts the health of the patient, and potentially that of others, at risk. The regulations allow counselors to refuse to counsel same-sex couples or a pharmacist to refuse to fill a prescription for hormone replacement therapy for a transgender customer.

The regulations clarify that any entity that receives HHS funding must allow this exemption. The regulations cover hundreds of hospitals, universities and public health programs serving millions of citizens across the fifty states. As a result, they preempt state and local anti-discrimination laws. They also preempt individual employer policies protecting against non-discrimination. Consequently, patients could not be guaranteed access to health care.

Protecting the free exercise of one’s personal religious beliefs is an important public policy goal. However, no American should face discrimination in the healthcare system simply because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. Because these regulations tip the balance away from patients’ access to health services, I urge HHS to rescind the regulations in their entirety.


For those of you who live here in Arizona, you probably already know that the state legislature has passed legislation out of committee (House Bill 2564) and even though it is couched in terms of abortion it's language will, in effect, to do the same thing here. They've made these attempts in the past but when their bills reached Governor Napolitano's desk, they were vetoed. Unfortunately, her successor, former Secretary of State Jan Brewer is a staunch republican and is expected to sign.

That's why we need to make a strong statement to the HHS that this kind of legislation, in any form is absolutely unacceptable.