By D’Anne Witkowski
In a parallel universe somewhere president Hillary Clinton is expanding access to health care in the United States and LGBTQ people are fully protected under the law.
Unfortunately, Donald Trump is the president and he, along with the heartless ghouls who make up his administration, seek daily to restrict health care access, especially for groups of people they don’t like: the poor, women and LGBTQ people.
I recently saw a video of Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) posted by Progress Iowa (youtube.com/watch?v=L1klfquaNwc) where a constituent tells him that by repeatedly voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act threatens her life. He literally gets in her face and says, essentially, that she’s a silly for worrying about that because it isn’t going to happen. He’s voted to repeal seven times. That’s like telling your child, “I want to kill you in your sleep” and then being mad at that kid for having nightmares about something that “isn’t going to happen.”
As someone with health issues of my own (I’m a two-time cancer survivor and just happen to be trying to pass a kidney stone right now), I totally understand where this woman is coming from. Every single one of us has to trust the health care system with our lives. At the bare minimum we should have guaranteed access to the system and be protected from discrimination.
That’s literally the opposite of the Republican health care plan. Not only do they want fewer people to have access to care, they want health care professionals to be allowed to refuse treatment if they have a religious or conscientious objection.
This sounds all well and good on the surface. I mean, someone shouldn’t be forced to participate in something that violates their sincerely held beliefs, right?
But when you consider the fact that what health care providers participate in is life-saving treatment, suddenly it’s all a lot less well or good.
It’s important to note that right-wing, so-called Christians have been waging a war on science for decades so these objections can very well be based on reasoning that is contrary to science and established medical treatment.
The main procedures the Trump administration wants to let people opt out of is abortion, contraception, assisted suicide (which could more broadly be interpreted as end of life care, which includes DNR orders and removing life support from patients who are not going to recover), sterilization and gender affirmation surgeries.
This new rule comes with the full support of the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR).
“This rule ensures that healthcare entities and professionals won’t be bullied out of the health care field because they decline to participate in actions that violate their conscience, including the taking of human life,” OCR Director Roger Severino said in a written statement. “Protecting conscience and religious freedom not only fosters greater diversity in healthcare, it’s the law.”
Oh, thank goodness “healthcare entities and professionals” won’t get bullied out of the field. Never mind that patients from vulnerable populations might very well get bullied out of care or, you know, life.
Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said in a statement, “HHS’s final denial of care rule will substantially harm the health and well-being of many – in particular women and transgender patients.”
Not that Severino would care. According to The Advocate, Severino “has opposed marriage equality, defended ‘ex-gay’ therapy and objected to allowing transgender people to serve in the military.” He was also behind a memo that sought to erase trans people by simply declaring they do not exist.
Trump and Vice President Mike Pence celebrated the new rule during a Rose Garden speech on the National Day of Prayer.
Pence stood in the Rose Garden and said, “In this White House, under this president, we believe in prayer.”
Seriously? Trump, the man who embodies the opposite of just about every one of the Ten Commandments, is the prayer president? Gross.
And then Pence said, “From early in this administration, President Trump has taken steps to ensure that the federal government will never, ever penalize anyone for their religious beliefs ever again.”
WTF are you talking about Trump literally tried to ban Muslims FFS!
Of course, religious freedom really means right-wing Christian dominance. Which isn’t very Jesus like.
It’s like that famous poem about Jesus walking with Trump in the sand when Jesus says, “When you saw only one set of footprints, it was because you were in a golf cart and when I tried to counsel you out your trials and testings you kept yelling, “Fake news!” And soon there were no footprints because I peaced out of there to go find some real Christians. And then your golf cart disappeared into the sea and I sent you my thoughts and prayers.”
— D’Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter