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Author Archive: Lori Bruce


by Lori Bruce, MA

News broke this week that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is creating a new “Conscience and Religious Freedom Division” (CRFD) in the Office for Civil Rights. This new division will support healthcare workers who refuse to treat patients based on moral or religious convictions: “OCR enforces laws and regulations that protect the free exercise of religion and prohibit discrimination in HHS-funded or conducted programs and activities.” U.S. law defines the exercise of religion as “any exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief.”

Patients belonging to LGBTQ populations as well as patients seeking reproductive health services (abortions, birth control, and vasectomies) or assisted suicide (where legal) now face uncertain care: “OCR enforces laws and regulations that protect conscience and prohibit coercion on such issues as abortion and assisted suicide (among others) in HHS-funded or conducted programs and activities.”   From a cursory review of their new website, the limits of CRFD are unclear. …

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