As a healthcare professional, I am writing to express my stance on the recently announced “Conscience and Religious Freedom Division” of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) within the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
I am aware of the intentions behind the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division but I don’t believe they will have any impact on the people I work with as a medical professional. The office’s stated goal is to protect religious beliefs, but in practice, it could lead to individuals refusing to provide medical assistance based on those beliefs, which could result in a significant impediment to access to medical care for vulnerable populations, such as women and LGBTQ individuals.
I oppose this division because of ethical principles. The principle of nonmaleficence states that a professional in healthcare should never harm a person, while the principle beneficrimination states that professionals must provide healthcare to everyone, regardless of gender, race or sexuality. The ethical principles I adhere to are fundamental to my medical practice, and they serve as a foundation to provide quality medical care for all patients.
In addition, to these ethical guidelines, I also refer to important Supreme Court rulings, like the case Griswold v. Connecticut which established the privacy right, or the Roe v. Wade which upheld abortion rights. These decisions set precedents for ensuring individual autonomy as well as ensuring patients’ right to receive medical care free from discrimination.
It is my recommendation that the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division needs to be revised and evaluated to ensure a balance between protecting religious freedom and providing medical care to all people. Under the pretext of protecting religious belief, we cannot tolerate discrimination towards women or LGBTQ people.
Conclusion: I am of the opinion that the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division does not serve the needs of the people I work with and is contrary to the ethical standards and Supreme Court rulings that I follow in my professional practice. Please consider my suggestions for revising and reevaluating the division in order to provide equal access to health care to all people without discrimination.