The Trump administration has issued new rules that grant healthcare workers the right to discriminate based on their religious beliefs.

In a speech to conservative evangelical leaders at the White House on Thursday (May 2) to mark the National Day of Prayer, President Trump confirmed he would enact a rumoured plan to scale down healthcare discrimination protections.

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The President confirmed: “Today we finalised new protections of conscience rights for physicians, pharmacists, nurses, teachers, students and faith-based charities.”

Addressing anti-LGBT Vice President Mike Pence, he added: “They’ve been wanting to do that for a long time, right Mike? They’ve been wanting to do that for a long time.”

US Vice President Mike Pence and Karen Pence participate in a National Day of Prayer service in the Rose Garden at the White House May 02, 2019 in Washington, DC.
US Vice President Mike Pence and Karen Pence participate in a National Day of Prayer service in the Rose Garden at the White House May 02, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty))

The Department of Health and Human Services issued the new rules, extending rights for religious objection against an alleged “culture of hostility to conscience concerns in health care.”

It advises healthcare professionals: “You have the right under Federal law to decline to perform, assist in the performance of, refer for, undergo, or pay for certain health care‐related treatments, research, or services  (such as abortion or assisted suicide, among others) that violate your conscience, religious beliefs, or moral convictions.”

GLAAD tweeted: “The Trump Administration essentially wants to hand people a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people.”

The ACLU added: “Trump’s HHS issued a rule today allowing for discrimination in health care when there is a ‘moral or religious objection.’

“Preventing people from accessing critical medical care may endanger people’s lives, especially trans people and those seeking reproductive care.”

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The National Center for Transgender Equality said: “The Trump-Pence admin just opened the door to more health care providers denying transition-related care, all while claiming that they lack evidence that religious bigotry harms LGBTQ people and other minorities.

“This horrific decision from the Trump-Pence U.S. Department of Health and Human Services puts lives at risk.

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“Transgender people already face high rates of discrimination in health care settings.”

Democratic National Committee LGBTQ Media Director Lucas Acosta said: “Access to health care can be life-or-death. But rather than seek to improve our health care system, the Trump-Pence administration is determined to strip away access to health care from women, people with HIV/AIDS, and LGBTQ people, particularly transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals.

“This license to discriminate is unethical and dangerously undermines the health of some of the most vulnerable among us.

“Every individual deserves access to quality health care and life saving emergency services. No one should ever be refused medical care because of who they are. It’s clear Republicans still haven’t learned what the 2018 midterm elections mandated – the American people want more access to health care, not less.”

Human Rights Campaign Government Affairs Director David Stacy said: “The Trump-Pence administration’s latest attack threatens LGBTQ people by permitting medical providers to deny critical care based on personal beliefs.

“The administration’s decision puts LGBTQ people at greater risk of being denied necessary and appropriate health care solely based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Everyone deserves access to medically necessary care and should never be turned away because of who they are or who they love.”

Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, said: “The Trump-Pence Administration will stop at nothing to strip patients of the care they deserve.

“This rule allows anyone from a doctor to a receptionist to entities like hospitals and pharmacies to deny a patient critical – and sometimes lifesaving – care. Personal beliefs should never determine the care a patient receives.

“This is a vicious and underhanded attack on the health and lives of patients, particularly targeting women and LGBTQ individuals. We will fight against it until all patients get the care they deserve.”

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