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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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CRIME

Trump Organization Under ‘Criminal’ Investigation by NY Attorney General: Report

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The Trump Organization, a private multi-national conglomerate founded by the former U.S. president’s father and grandmother nearly a century ago, is now under “criminal” investigation by the New York Attorney General.

The Office of New York Attorney General Letitia James says the investigation into the Trump Organization “is no longer purely civil in nature,” Axios is reporting Tuesday night.

In what could be devastating news for former President Donald Trump and members of the Trump family, the NY AG Letitia James’ office “is now working with the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which has been investigating the Trump Organization for potential bank, tax and insurance fraud.”

“We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA,” Fabien Levy, James’ spokesperson, says.

 

This is a breaking news and developing story. 

 

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EQUALITY

US State Dept. Ends Anti-LGBTQ Discriminatory Trump-Era Policy Targeting Same-Sex Families

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The U.S. State Dept. under Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday ended a Trump-era policy targeted directly against LGBTQ families. The policy, supported by then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, mandated that children born outside the United States to parents who are U.S. citizens must be biologically related to both parents, or they would not be allowed to be granted U.S. citizenship.

The discriminatory policy ensnared only same-sex couples, and hewed to Pompeo and Trump’s anti-LGBTQ and anti-immigrant  beliefs.

In a statement U.S. Department of State Spokesperson Ned Price said the “updated interpretation and application of the INA [Immigration and Nationality Act] takes into account the realities of modern families and advances in ART [assisted reproductive technology] from when the Act was enacted in 1952.”

In one case NCRM reported on in 2019, the Pompeo State Dept. actually allowed one of two biological twins to be granted U.S. citizenship but prohibited the other from the exact same rights.

The non-profit group Immigration Equality in a statement Tuesday said the Trump-era policy had affected “many married same-sex couples,” and noted that “the Immigration and Nationality Act has never required a biological relationship for married parents. As such, every federal court that heard the issue found that the State Department’s policy was inconsistent with the statute.” 

Related:

Biden’s LGBTQ Executive Order Is Just the Start – Here Are the Other Pro-Equality Actions the Administration Is Taking

Confirmed: Trump Is Using the State Dept to Wage War on Legally Married American Same-Sex Families

 

 

 

 

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News

FBI Investigating ‘Massive’ Alleged Campaign Finance Scheme to Help Fund Susan Collins’ Re-Election: Report

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating an alleged campaign finance scheme it characterized as “massive” involving a political action committee aligned with Senator Susan Collins, and direct donations to the Collins’ campaign. The Maine Republican won re-election in November despite polling that showed her Democratic challenger beating her.

“A recently unsealed search warrant application shows the FBI believes a Hawaii defense contractor illegally funneled $150,000 to a pro-Collins super PAC and reimbursed donations to Collins’ campaign. There’s no indication that Collins or her team were aware of any of it,” Axios reports.

The report shows that Senator Collins, who sits on the Defense subcommittee of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, helped the contractor secure an $8 million Navy contract, before most of the donations were given. That contractor is the Martin Defense Group, formerly known as Navatek.

A shell company was allegedly used. Federal contractors are prohibited from donating to super PACs.

“Former Navatek CEO Martin Kao was indicted last year for allegedly bilking the federal government of millions in coronavirus relief loans,” Axios reports.

The Collins Campaign “had absolutely no knowledge of anything alleged in the warrant,” a Collins spokesperson, Annie Clark, told Axios.

Maine voters elected Collins “to a fifth term by 9 points. No Maine senator has been popularly elected five times. It was a far cry from previous supermajority wins,” The Bangor Daily News reported at the time, “but resounding after every public poll showed [Democrat Sara]Gideon ahead. Democrats had pinned their hopes of flipping the Senate on Maine, leading to more than $200 million spent on the race.”

Here’s a copy of the search warrant:

 

 

 

 

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