Trump Administration Revives the "Conscience Clause"

[Content Note: Misogyny; transphobia; homophobia; fat hatred; disablism.]

The Trump administration, by which I mean Mike Pence, loves the old culture wars so much that he's pulled up one of its Greatest Hits on the ol' jukebox of horrors: The Conscience Clause.

Dan Diamond and Jennifer Haberkorn at Politico: Trump to Shield Health Care Workers Who Claim Moral Objections.
The Trump administration is planning new protections for health workers who don't want to perform abortions, refuse to treat transgender patients based on their gender identity. or provide other services for which they have moral objections.

Under a proposed rule — which has been closely guarded at HHS and is now under review by the White House — the HHS office in charge of civil rights would be empowered to further shield these workers and punish organizations that don't allow them to express their moral objections, according to sources on and off the Hill.

...The pending rule, which could be released as soon as this week, has been described to POLITICO as establishing a new "division" of the HHS civil rights office that would conduct compliance reviews, audits, and other enforcement actions to ensure that health care providers are allowing workers to opt out of procedures when they have religious or moral objections.
This was a constant fight during the Bush administration. (One against then-Senator Hillary Clinton fought vehemently. Cough.) And no matter how sophisticated the language — Republicans have since largely abandoned the term "conscience clause" and have significantly toned down the religious rhetoric on this subject — it's still a garbage position that privileges a very specific brand of conservative Christianity in direct violation of the mandate to "do no harm."

For more than a decade, healthcare providers who subscribe to the particular iteration of Christianity that gives them religious cover for their existing bigotries, have insisted that not being able to refuse to provide care to certain patients — abortion-seeking women, transgender people, gay/bi people — leaves them with "no choice," complaining that "the secular world increasingly demanding they capitulate to doing procedures, prescribing pills, or performing tasks that they find morally reprehensible."

(And what they find "morally reprehensible" will ever expand to include people of whose "lifestyle choices" they don't approve: Fat patients, addicts, alcoholics, smokers, people with chronic pain they decide are "pill-seeking.")

Only in an environment where "freedom of religion" is deliberately misconstrued to mean "the right of a single strand of conservative Christianity to not have to follow the rules everyone else does" could an expectation to provide legal healthcare services constitute religious discrimination. Only in this atmosphere could not being able to pick and choose which patients you want to serve, thusly redefining your entire profession on your own terms, be considered tantamount to having no choice at all.

Here's your choice: Do what you were hired to do or get another fucking job.

This culture of victimhood among conservative Christians is ridiculous in the extreme. It is predicated on the flawed assertions that their version of Christianity is the only version, and that it is the exclusive source from which morality can be derived.

The morality of all other Christians, all people of other religions, and all irreligious people must be diligently ignored — particularly those traditions in which there is an obligation to provide care to all people.

If those equally valid beliefs were not erased from all public conversation, the barking dipshits who equate oppression with a requirement of compliance with one's basic job description might have to face the reality that there's not some insidious siege upon religious freedom, but instead just a minority group whose religious beliefs make them intrinsically unfit to hold positions as healthcare providers.

They want to have their cake (opposition to certain healthcare procedures) and eat it, too (be healthcare providers free to decline patients of their choosing). But it just doesn't work that way.

A marketing exec for Phillip Morris who's lost a parent to lung cancer and decides that hawking smokes is "morally reprehensible" doesn't get paid to sit in her office doing nothing. She finds a way to navigate doing a job that she finds objectionable but provides a living, or she finds another job.

If you sign up to be a healthcare provider, you bloody well provide healthcare.

It's no one else's responsibility to indulge your conscience — especially not a patient whose very life might depend on your fulfilling the functions you were hired to do.

The vile irony of this trash is that asking for on-the-job exemptions from primary duties based on religious beliefs is nothing less than the "special rights" conservatives are incessantly accusing the LGBTQ community, women, and other marginalized populations of seeking.

But we just want baseline equality. Christians who want to use their interpretation of the Bible to rewrite their job descriptions want an inequality that caters to their personal whims.

It's bad enough when it's some asshole who doesn't want to issue marriage certificates to same-sex couples or bake a cake for their wedding, but "conscience clauses" in the field of medicine, where lives depend on people who don't hesitate, who put patients' needs before their own desires, such a willful dereliction of duty is thoroughly contemptible.

It is immoral. It will be deadly.

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