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Religious freedom should not eclipse other fundamental rights (The Hill)

The Hill, February 6, 2018

Religious freedom should not eclipse other fundamental rights

By Mirah Curzer & Melissa Lee, Co-Chairs of the New York City Bar Association’s Sex & Law Committee

“On the eve of the second Women’s March and in the midst of the #MeToo movement, the Trump administration introduced a new initiative that threatens to undermine access to constitutionally-protected health care for women and LGBTQ persons: the creation of a new Division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that will defend health-care providers who refuse to provide certain health care to patients based on their religious or moral beliefs. The announcement was coupled with a notice of proposed rule-making, through which HHS intends to expand its enforcement power for these types of claims. Together, the new division and proposed rule encourage discrimination under the guise of religious freedom, and the initiative should be opposed. Presently, federal law allows health-care workers to abstain from providing health care that they find morally or religiously objectionable, particularly abortion and sterilization. Similarly, many states have their own moral objection laws, which provide similar protections….When the government promotes an interpretation of the law that mischaracterizes one fundamental right as subordinate to the other, it acts to thus undermine both. Accordingly, HHS’s initiative should not only be widely opposed, but outright rejected.”

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