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Trump Admin Creating Policy to Allow Health Workers With Religious or Moral Objections to Discriminate

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New Rule Would Reorganize HHS Office for Civil Rights and Allow Federal Government Outreach to Groups Working to Enable Discrimination

The Trump administration is preparing new policy to enable health care workers claiming religious or moral objections to discriminate against transgender patients, or to refuse to perform or assist in performing abortion services. According to Politico the new rule could be announced in time for Friday’s March for Life, an annual anti-choice rally held in Washington, D.C., organized in part by the religious right to drive support for overturning Roe v. Wade.

Roger Severino, Trump’s highly controversial Director of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Health and Human Services, reportedly is spearheading a reorganization of the division to enforce compliance and dole out punishments to organizations that might violate the new protections. 

Not only would this new office “punish organizations that don’t allow” health care workers “to express their moral objections,” but it would “also conduct outreach and technical support to help others who are seeking to strengthen protections for these workers,” Politico reports.

In other words, a taxpayer-funded arm of the federal government might actively partner with, for example, the Family Research Council to help undermine the civil rights of transgender patients or women seeking abortion services. It could be like OSHA but instead of ensuring safe working conditions it would ensure health care workers are allowed to discriminate against transgender people and women seeking abortions. 

Just days ago the complaint portal website for the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services was updated to include greatly expanded language on Federal Conscience and Religious Freedom Laws.

Here’s a screenshot of the page on January 13:

old_a.jpg

Here’s a screenshot of the page today:

new_a.jpg

The updated page includes an entirely new category of complaint: Violation of Conscience or Religious Freedom.

Severino has a history of anti-transgender positions, notably when he was the Director of the DeVos family’s Center for Religion and Civil Society, Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity at The Heritage Foundation. He also served as legal counsel for the right wing Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

Politico adds that Severino “has repeatedly stressed that strengthening conscience protections for health care workers is a top priority for his office.”

His appointment was condemned by LGBT civil rights groups last year.

“Severino has called the efforts of agencies such as OCR to protect transgender people from discrimination an ‘abuse of power‘ wielded ‘to coerce everyone…into pledging allegiance to a radical new gender ideology,'” a joint statement signed by eight progressive and LGBT civil rights groups charged.

UPDATE –
The DNC is blasting the Trump administration over this move:

“Once again, women and the LGBTQ community are under attack from the Trump-Pence administration. Days before the anniversary of the Women’s March, Republicans are giving health workers a license to discriminate against women and members of the LGBTQ community,” DNC Director of Women’s Media Elizabeth Renda and Director of LGBTQ Media Lucas Acosta tell NCRM in an email statement. 

“It wasn’t enough to try to strip transgender Americans of their right to serve, roll back access to birth control, and attempt to defund Planned Parenthood. Now Trump, Pence, and their Republican cronies want to allow health care workers to discriminate and rip away access to medical care. This rule is unethical and dangerously undermines public health.” 

“This proposal is further proof that Republicans continue to push forward an agenda completely out of step with the American people and American ideals. Democrats will continue to focus on how to improve access to health care for all Americans regardless of gender, orientation, or income.”

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WOW

‘She’s Your Damn Senator’: Emerson College Blasted for Leaving Elizabeth Warren Out of 2020 Poll

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Emerson College was blasted for leaving their own senator out of head-to-head matchups in their latest nationwide poll.

The poll showed four candidates with double-digit support. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) measured at 29%, former Vice President Joe Biden was at 22%, former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg was at 14% and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) came in at 12%.

But the poll did not even test Warren in head-to-head matchups with Trump.

Warren scored 50% higher in the primary poll than former Pete Buttigieg, who was included in the matchups. And Warren had twice the support as Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who made the cut.

Charles Pierce, who covers politics for Esquire, was shocked by the omission.

 

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NOT HOW THIS WORKS

Bernie Sanders Reverses – Announces He Will Not Release His Full Medical Records Even After Heart Attack

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‘I Don’t Think We Will’

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, has announced he will not be releasing his full medical records after suffering a heart attack late last year. Sanders, 78, is currently seen as the frontrunner in the race for the Democratic nomination for president.

“We have released, I think, quite as much as any other candidate has,” Sen. Sanders said, defending his decision to reverse his promise of releasing a full set of medical records just after his October heart attack.

But in October, after the heart attack, Sanders said releasing his medical records was “the right thing to do.” He also had promised to release them “before the first votes are cast,” a deadline he’s missed.

“People do have a right to know about the health of a senator and someone running for president,” Sanders told CNN’s Sanjay Gupta on October 10. “At the appropriate time we’ll make all the medical records public for you or anyone else who wants to see them.”

Here’s Sanders just after his heart attack promising to release his full medical records:

Tuesday night he gave a very different response.

“We released two rather detailed letters from cardiologists and we released a letter that came from the head of the U.S. Congress medical group, the physicians there. So I think we have released a detailed report, and I’m comfortable with what we have done,” Sanders told Anderson Cooper Tuesday night at a CNN town hall.

“If you think I’m not in good health come on out with me on the campaign trail and I’ll let you introduce me to the three or four rallies a day that we do,” Sanders joked.

Cooper pressed the three-term Senator if he would be releasing his full medical records in the future.

“I don’t think we will, no,” Sanders responded.

President Donald Trump was largely decried and mocked for his refusal to release his full medical records when he was running in 2016. He has never released a full set, and his White House physician’s reports have been largely received as fictive.

Watch:

MSNBC analyst and DailyBeast columnist Jonathan Alter called Sanders’ move “Trumpish.”

Talking Points Memo founder and publisher Josh Marshall weighed in:

 

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SCAM SHAM OR SLAM?

New Report Claims Barr Has Said He Is Considering Quitting if Trump Continues to Tweet About DOJ: WaPo

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The Washington Post Tuesday night reports Attorney General Bill Barr has told multiple people “close to President Trump” inside and outside the White House that he is considering quitting if the President continues to tweet about Dept. of Justice investigations.

“He has his limits,” said one person familiar with Barr’s thinking, speaking on the condition of anonymity, like others, to discuss internal deliberations.

The new report comes on the heels of what many believe to be a disinformation campaign coordinated by the DOJ and the White House last week, when Barr told ABC News that Trump tweeting about investigations makes it “impossible” for him to do his job.

Trump dismissed Barr’s remarks, and has continued to tweet about DOJ matters.

Many experts have gone as far as to say Barr believes his job is to protect the President, and Trump’s tweets just make that harder.

 

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