Biden to repeal Trump rule that would let doctors refuse trans care and abortion

Joe Biden speaking into a microphone, there are Christmas trees in the background

A Trump-era “conscience” rule that would have allowed healthcare workers to refuse certain treatments will be rescinded.

Joe Biden’s administration has announced that it will strike down a rule introduced by the Trump’s government that allowed healthcare workers to refuse to take part in abortions, gender-affirming care for trans people, and other important procedures on religious or moral grounds.

The rule, which was originally blocked in 2019 by the courts, expanded on a 1973 law that allows physicians and other healthcare professionals to refuse participation in a medical procedure if it caused undue hardship on their employer. Trump’s law would have expanded this to include gender-affirming care, as well as abortion and sterilization.

Under Biden’s leadership, the Department of Health and Human Services is rescinding the majority of these proposals, leaving only a few complaint procedure changes in place.

In its proposal, the department said the Trump proposals would “undermine the balance Congress struck between safeguarding conscience rights and protecting access” to healthcare.

Its plan has been endorsed by the National Women’s Law Center, which said: “The administration’s action reaffirming that patient health must come first is crucial in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning the constitutional right to abortion and the resulting increase in refusals to provide care to patients across the country”.

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President Biden sits at a desk, signing an executive order, while LGBT+ advocates watch
Joe Biden’s administration has repealed several Trump-era laws that discriminated against transgender Americans. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The ACLU said: “Other people’s beliefs do not give them license to discriminate, to deny essential care, or to cause harm to others. Everybody deserves the ability to get the essential health care they need regardless of who they are or where they get care.”

The change is the latest move from the Biden administration to protect LGBTQ+ rights amid a wave of measures from Republican-controlled legislatures.

Earlier this month, Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act, which protects same-sex and interracial marriages, calling out anti-LGBTQ+ activists in the process.

“Today is a good day,” Biden said in an address after signing the act. “Today, America takes a vital step toward equality, liberty and justice. Not just for some, but for everyone.

He added that one of the most “profound decisions a person can make” is to marry the person they love, adding it was a shame that the US “had denied interracial couples and same-sex couples” vital legal protections.

“We failed to treat them with equal dignity and respect.”

Biden also hit out at the growing tide of transphobia and homophobia that has swept across the US, resulting in protests against LGBTQ+ events and extreme acts of violence.

“Racism, antisemitism, homophobia, transphobia, they’re all connected,” he added.

“But the antidote to hate is love.”

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