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Trump Creates New ‘Conscience and Religious Freedom Division’ at HHS to Support Discrimination by Health Care Professionals

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“No One Should Be Forced to Choose Between Helping Sick People and Living by One’s Deepest Moral or Religious Convictions” Division’s Chief Announces

The Office of Civil Rights at President Donald Trump’s Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) has a new division created to help ensure discrimination by medical professionals who chose to cite their religious or moral convictions when refusing to treat certain patients or when refusing to perform certain functions. The Conscience and Religious Freedom Division was officially announced in an HHS press release Thursday.

Transgender people, women seeking contraception or abortion services, gay, lesbian, bisexual people, people living with HIV/AIDS seem particularly at risk for further – and now federally-sanctioned – discrimination under the Trump administration.

No one should be forced to choose between helping sick people and living by one’s deepest moral or religious convictions,” said Roger Severino (photo), Director of the HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR). Severino, whose resume includes positions at far right wing organizations, has a long history of publicly opposing transgender people.

In short, under the Trump administration’s new policy and new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, health care workers could, for example, refuse to treat a transgender patient, just because they are transgender. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual people all could be refused a doctor’s appointment or told at an emergency room they have to seek help elsewhere. Unmarried sexually-active women could be refused contraception, or forced to shop around for a doctor willing to perform a medically-necessary abortion. Same-sex couples seeking a pediatrician for a newborn child could also be refused.

NCRM first reported Wednesday that the complaint portal website for the Office for Civil Rights at HHS had already been updated to include greatly expanded language on Federal Conscience and Religious Freedom Laws.

Invited guests attending Thursday morning’s announcement include Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) who vigorously pushed her now-failed bill that would have banned the Pentagon from spending taxpayer funds to support medically-necessary treatment of transgender service members.

Also invited is Senator James Lankford (R-OK) who infamously said in 2012, “race and sexual preferences are two different things. One is a behavior-related and preference-related and one is something inherently — skin color, something obvious, that kind of stuff.”

Both GOP lawmakers have ties to the Family Research Council.

“Severino is a defender of the discredited practice of conversion therapy, argued transgender service members ‘dishonors’ the military, and insisted that anti-LGBTQ discrimination is ‘based not on any sort of hatred but, in fact, out of love,'” GLAAD noted in a statement Thursday.

“Any healthcare worker who has moral objections to providing medically necessary care to an entire vulnerable population is in the wrong line of work,” Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, said. “Denying a transgender person – or any person – life saving care if they walk into an emergency room is far from a moral act, it is unjust and dangerous. Trump, Pence, and Trump’s appointees have tried time and again to establish blatantly bigoted policies that harm transgender and gender non-conforming Americans, and history will neither forget nor forgive this Administration’s attacks on its own people.”

The Catholic Health Association says that “the Catholic health ministry is the largest group of nonprofit health care providers in the nation. Every day, one in six patients in the U.S. is cared for in a Catholic hospital.” The organization represents health care facility operators that employ nearly 750,000 health care workers. Due to a rash of mergers many hospitals that appear secular are actually controlled by religious organizations.

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Trump’s Latest Racist Lie: ‘If You’re White You Don’t Get Therapeutics’

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Former President Donald Trump spoke at rally with Arizona Republicans on Saturday, where he made false and racially inflammatory comments claiming that white people are being denied access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. At the event, which was sponsored by Trump’s Save America PAC, he falsely charged “the left” with “discriminating against and denigrating, just denigrating, white people to determine who lives and who dies,” adding, “If you’re white, you don’t get the vaccine, or if you’re white, you don’t get therapeutics.”

Trump’s wildly irresponsible charge was tailor-made to promote racial resentment and stoke the kind of anger and grievance that is fomented by white nationalists and has led to violence and mass murder. But it didn’t seem to bother his fans, including Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk, who tweeted his praise for Trump’s “epic speech,” adding, “This is how you win big in November.”

Indeed, Trump was in Florence, Arizona, “drumming up support for Arizona Republicans running for office,” reported the local Fox affiliate. His hour-and-a-half speech also included his standard lies about the 2020 presidential election nationally and in Arizona specifically and about the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol Insurrection.

Among the Arizona politicians who spoke at the rally were Rep. Paul Gosar, who represents the area where the event was held, and state Sen. Wendy Rogers. Both of them are associated with white nationalist Nick Fuentes. Right Wing Watch has documented multiple recent examples of Fuentes using his streaming show to spout blatant racism,  most recently to defend his use of the N-word.

In December, Rogers bragged about having been called “based” by Fuentes, describing it as “like knighthood.” At Saturday’s rally, she insisted that Trump won and is the “true president.” Rogers, who describes herself as a member of the Oath Keepers, was one of several rally speakers who sounded Christian nationalist themes. She ended her remarks with “Jesus is King!”—a declaration reminiscent of the chants of “Christ is King!” that could be heard repeatedly at Fuentes’s America First conference last year.

Gosar gave the QAnon adherents in attendance reason to cheer when he asked, “Do you feel the storm building?” and encouraged rally attendees to keep “building on this storm.” Central to the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory is belief in “the Storm,” a day of reckoning when high-ranking Democratic officials and others would be rounded up and arrested for their alleged crimes.

Other officials and candidates who addressed the crowd included Reps. Andy Biggs and Debbie Lesko, former Trump administration official Richard Grenell, state Sen. Sonny Borrelli, state Senate candidate Anthony Kern, Trump-endorsed secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem, and Trump-endorsed candidate for governor Kari Lake.

Their speeches collectively document the extent to which Trump has corrupted the Republican Party, with speakers repeating Trump’s lies about the election, calling on the state legislature to decertify the 2020 presidential election results, and denouncing Dr. Anthony Fauci (eliciting chants of “Lock him up!”). Biggs denounced the “fascistic Biden regime” and promoted the right-wing lie that the Biden administration is investigating parents simply for showing up at school board meetings.

Also speaking at the Florence event was Arizona’s Trumpist GOP chairwoman Kelli Ward, who claimed that there was cheating back in 2016 but that “we deplorables, we people who love this country, overwhelmed their cheating algorithm, and we’ve got to do it again in 2022, 2024, and beyond.” She said Arizona’s “audit” is still ongoing and that she hopes that “we’re gonna decertify 2020.”

in recognition that Black, Hispanic, and Native Americans are, according to CDC data cited by the New York Times, “about twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than white Americans,” the guidelines suggest that in prioritizing care for people with COVID-19, race should be considered one risk factor along with other factors like age, diabetes, and heart disease.

It is not clear that anyone in Trump’s Republican Party—which has made a bogeyman out of critical race theory and stokes white grievance as a power-building strategy—takes issue with the former president lying about white people being “denigrated” and denied access to COVID-19 care. That false claim was apparently in response to media reports about a December memo from the New York Department of Health. In recognition of the fact that Black, Hispanic, and Native Americans are, according to CDC data cited by the New York Times, about twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as white Americans, the department’s guidelines suggest that in prioritizing care for people with COVID-19, race should be considered one risk factor along with other factors like age, diabetes, and heart disease. The guidelines do not disqualify white patients from receiving any treatments.

Some right-wing media responded to the guidelines with characteristic truthfulness and nuance; for example, writer Karol Markowicz tweeted, “white people need not apply.”

 

This article was originally published by Right Wing Watch and is republished by permission.

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‘Sinema Is Hurting All Democrats’: Former Top Democratic Aide Reveals Dems Could Lose Senate Over Her Filibuster Failure

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A well-known former top Democratic aide is warning that U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema‘s refusal to support changes to the filibuster could help hand control of the Senate to Republicans in the November election.

Adam Jentleson, who served as Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Deputy Chief of Staff and is an expert on the Senate, says the Arizona Democrat is “hurting all Democrats.”

He points to this tweet from CNN’s Manu Raju: “GOP planning to use Sinema against Mark Kelly.” Kelly is the freshman Democratic Senator, also from Arizona who serves with Sinema. His seat is a prime target for Republicans.

Raju quotes a top Republican, Sen. John Cornyn, who says: “I think there’s going to be a big contrast in Arizona where one senator said not withstanding her support for the legislation she believes it’s important … to have bipartisanship and one senator that doesn’t.”

Sinema and Cornyn in June (photo above) toured U.S. Customs and Border Protection migrant facilities in her home state of Arizona, as she held a press conference praising the filibuster.

Jentleson, who literally wrote the book on the filibuster, explains:

Up to nine Democratic groups and PACs, NARAL being the latest, have indicated they will pull support and funding from Sen. Sinema if she refuses to support necessary changes to the Jim Crow era filibuster.

 

 

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Utah’s Top GOP Lawmaker Tested Positive for COVID Twice Just Hours Before ‘Conducting Business as Normal’ – With No Mask

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Utah’s hydroxychloroquine-pushing right wing Republican Senate President opened the chamber’s 2022 session Tuesday by announcing he had just tested positive for COVID – twice. He then “joked,” saying he was actually negative.

But in fact Senator J. Stuart Adams had indeed tested positive for COVID, twice, just hours before heading off to work and “conducting business as normal,” The Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Sen. Adams had been symptomatic last Wednesday and tested positive the following day.

Senate deputy chief of staff Aundrea Peterson falsely “said the senator has followed the CDC guidelines, has not had a fever since Saturday, and his symptoms had subsided.”

CDC guidelines make clear anyone who has recently tested positive for COVID-19 should isolate for five days or, if symptoms are declining, they must wear a mask around others.

“Adams was maskless when he opened the session Tuesday, including when he greeted Elder Gerrit W. Gong, one of the Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who offered an opening prayer,” the Tribune notes. “Adams wore a mask when he met with news media later in the day but was unmasked again when the Senate resumed business in the afternoon.”

Mother Jones reported that in April of 2020 Utah’s “legislature met in special session and set aside $6 million for the state to purchase and stockpile medications. Turns out a suburban pharmacist with connections to Senate President Stuart Adams had stockpiled hundreds of thousands of doses of hydroxychloroquine and zinc, the scientifically questionable treatment championed by President Trump.”

As it turns out, “the state had already purchased $800,000 worth of the drug from this pharmacy, Meds in Motion, at vastly inflated prices.”

Laster on Tuesday, the Senate voted to void local mask mandates.

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