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March 08, 2018 RAPID RESPONSE

Civil Rights Protection for Discrimination? Recent Developments in the HHS Office of Civil Rights

On January 18, 2018, the Trump Administration announced a new division of the HHS Office for Civil Rights focused on the rights of health care providers to determine or deny care depending on the provider’s religious conviction. The following day, HHS issued a proposed rule to broaden the scope of existing laws that permit denials to care, and grant OCR new outreach, investigative, and enforcement authority to ensure that federal funding recipients defer to providers’ personal and institutional beliefs over patients' needs. How are these developments likely to affect patients’ ability to obtain necessary health care? Is this new policy likely to have particular impacts on vulnerable communities such as transgender people, women and people of color? Does the new policy strike an appropriate balance between the rights of patients and the rights of providers? Our panel of experts will discuss the new division and rule in depth and offer their views of what appear to be expanded protection for health care refusals.


  • Susan Berke Fogel, Director, Reproductive Health, NHeLP
  • Jamille Fields, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
  • Jennifer C. Pizer, Law and Policy Director, Lambda Legal

Co-Sponsors: ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity Committee, ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice Health Rights and Bioethics Committee, ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice Rights of Women Committee

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