WASHINGTON, DC – Planned Parenthood Federation of America, on behalf of its member-affiliates, and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, sued the Trump administration today to block a rule that would allow health workers broad discrimination practices against women and LGBTQ people. Planned Parenthood, represented by attorneys from Planned Parenthood Federation of America, National Women’s Law Center, Democracy Forward, and Covington & Burling, is suing to stop the administration’s “refusal of care” rule, which would endanger patients by granting health care workers – from physicians and nurses to receptionists, EMTs, and call center staff —the right to put their personal beliefs ahead of people’s health, even in emergencies. The rule means people could be denied access to information and health care for any reason — simply because a health care worker disagrees with a particular service, like birth control, abortion, or gender-affirming health services. Further, the rule impacts over 600,000 health centers, including Planned Parenthood, and erects barriers to providers who want to provide the full range of reproductive health services. This rule runs counter to Planned Parenthood’s mission and would require health centers to staff workers, or volunteers, who do not want to provide care and information.
Statement from Dr. Leana Wen, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
“All patients must be able to access the care they need without the fear of judgment or discrimination, which is why Planned Parenthood is suing to stop this dangerous rule. As a doctor, I know that trust is the cornerstone of the physician-patient relationship. We are all entitled to our own personal beliefs, but that does not give anyone the right to use those beliefs to harm those we serve. No one should have to worry if they will get the right care or information because of their providers’ personal beliefs. We won’t stop fighting to protect our patients’ rights – no matter what.”
Statement from Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC)
“We are taking the Trump administration to court for issuing yet another illegal and discriminatory rule that threatens people’s access to health care. This rule is another attempt to entrench hate in to the law, and the National Women’s Law Center will continue to fight these efforts and defend patients across the country. Not now, and not ever, should personal beliefs dictate the care a patient receives.”
Statement from Democracy Forward Executive Director Anne Harkavy
“The Trump-Pence administration’s decision to privilege certain personal beliefs over patient care is as dangerous as it is unlawful.”
There is widespread opposition to this rule, especially among the medical community. The American Medical Association, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and American College of Emergency Physicians, among other health care experts, oppose this rule because it interferes with a patient’s ability to get care. More than 200,000 individuals and organizations spoke out against this rule during a public comment period.
This rule would exacerbate the already-massive divide between who does and doesn’t have health care in this country, and further undermine the rights of people of color, LGBTQ people, and women. Some people have already been refused health care because of a provider’s personal beliefs. But instead of protecting patients, the Trump-Pence refusal rule will make it worse for patients, including women, LGBTQ people, and people of color. Women already experience barriers to accessing comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion. The impact of this policy will be most harmful to women of color, who are more likely to live in areas with hospitals that claim an objection to comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion; and they may even encounter workers who will be emboldened to refuse to provide certain forms of birth control. LGBTQ people in the U.S. — especially those who are transgender, people of color, or both — often have less access quality health care due to the intersections of racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, ableism, and other systemic barriers. As such, they are more likely to rely on federally funded programs to access care. Meanwhile, nearly one-third of transgender people surveyed said a doctor or health care provider refused to treat them due to their gender identity.
Statement from Meagan Gallagher, CEO & President, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England:
“When people walk through our doors, they expect to receive comprehensive reproductive health care and information about all of their options, with compassion and without judgment. This rule would interfere with our ability to serve our patients by making it more difficult for Planned Parenthood to ensure that the people who work at our health centers cannot deny care to our patients. This runs counter to Planned Parenthood’s mission, and that’s why we’re in court to fight this rule.”
This “refusal of care” rule is part of the Trump administration’s broader agenda to impose its ideology on all people and block patients from accessing sexual and reproductive health services at Planned Parenthood. Recently the administration released a domestic gag rule on Title X that would dismantle the nation’s birth control and reproductive health program. Title X health centers serve more than 4 million patients, so the administration’s efforts pose unnecessary harm, and risk the health and lives of millions across the country. Repeated attempts by extreme politicians would compound the obstacles that can stand in the way of access to essential and lifesaving health care for women, LGBTQ people, and people of color.
The administration has also:
- tried to block patients from Planned Parenthood health centers;
- proposed a rule to remove protections for transgender people and people who have had an abortion;
- introduced a rule that would allow bosses to decide whether insurance covers birth control;
- stacked the federal courts with anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ and anti-birth control judges;
- tried to eliminate the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program;
- proposed a rule to eliminate protections for survivors of sexual assault.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.
The National Women’s Law Center fights for gender justice — in the courts, in public policy, and in our society — working across the issues that are central to the lives of women and girls. We use the law in all its forms to change culture and drive solutions to the gender inequity that shapes our society and to break down the barriers that harm all of us — especially those who face multiple forms of discrimination, including women of color, LGBTQ people, and low-income women and families. For more than 45 years, we have been on the leading edge of every major legal and policy victory for women.
Democracy Forward is a nonprofit legal organization that scrutinizes Executive Branch activity across policy areas, represents clients in litigation to challenge unlawful actions, and educates the public when the White House or federal agencies break the law.