Crist Questions Possibility of Religious Bias in Health Care
U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist wants to know if doctors and other medical providers who receive public funds can deny health care, such as birth control prescriptions, based on the caregiver’s religious beliefs.
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, has asked the U.S. Health Department for assurance that its newly established Conscience and Religious Freedom Division will not shield medical providers who discriminate against patients by denying access to care.
Here is the letter Crist wrote Friday (Jan. 26) to Alex Azar, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
Dear Secretary Azar,
Congratulations on your recent confirmation as Secretary of Health and Human Services. I look forward to working with you to protect and promote the health and well being of all Americans. In that vein, I write regarding the newly established Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within the Office of Civil Rights. As the co-chair of the 2018 National Prayer Breakfast, I am deeply committed to the principles of religious freedom and liberty upon which our nation was founded, which are enshrined in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
I also know that the sacred principle of religious freedom must never be distorted to justify or permit discrimination against any of God’s children. To do so would be heretical to the fundamental teachings of the world’s great religions and undercut the standing of believers to practice freely as they see fit. I pray you agree. To protect the integrity of the Administration’s laudable goal of advancing religious freedom, please provide specific guidance clarifying whether the principles of conscience or religious freedom would allow a medical provider or associate receiving public funds to refuse to provide the following services:
- Birth control prescriptions
- Emergency contraception
- Lifesaving abortion
- In vitro fertilization, including for unmarried patients, same-sex couples, and interracial couples
- Medical care for a patient living with HIV/AIDS
- Medical care for a patient who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer
- Pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV prescriptions
- HIV testing
- Hormone therapy for transgender or intersex patients
- Gender confirmation surgery
- Navigator assistance for an Affordable Care Act applicant who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer
- HPV vaccines
- Mental health care or a reference for mental health services
Your specificity – particularly surrounding non-discrimination for women, members of the LGBTQ community, and persons living with HIV/AIDS – will go a long way to providing peace of mind for those in Florida’s 13th Congressional District and across the country who have faced or fear well-documented discrimination and abuse by medical providers. Given the urgent medical needs of some individuals in impacted communities, I respectfully request your urgent attention and expeditious response.
Crist represents Florida’s 13th Congressional District, which includes south and mid-Pinellas County.
For information about Crist, go to crist.house.gov.
Charlie Crist | Health Care | Religious Freedom | Religious Bias | Religious Discrimination | Politics | Tampabay News
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