Today, the Trump administration is announcing a new office in the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services called the “Conscience and Religious Freedom Division” (CRFD), intended to “ease the way for doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to opt out of providing services that violate their moral or religious beliefs.” In other words, this new division will allow medical providers to deny abortion and other critical health care services for LGBTQ people and people living with HIV when they have moral objections.
What are these implications? The Center for American Progress released new data from a 2017 survey, showing the prevalence and impact of discriminatory medical care on LGBTQ people. The data are especially shocking with regards to transgender people, as 29 percent reported that “a doctor or other health care provider refused to see them because of their actual or perceived gender identity.” Some people brush off such statistics, claiming that individuals turned away from one provider can simply find another. But this isn’t so easy, especially in small towns and rural areas. In fact, 41 percent of LGBTQ people who live outside of metro areas say it would be very difficult or not possible to find service at a different hospital, if one hospital turned them away.
This isn’t the first time the Trump administration has attempted to disrupt Americans’ health care services in the name of religious freedom. Last year, the Trump administration attacked women’s access to contraception, saying that employers that objected to birth control would not have to provide it at no cost, as mandated by the Affordable Care Act. (Thankfully, multiple federal judges have stopped the rule.) One of Trump’s first actions in office was to expand the Global Gag Rule, which resulted in the loss of $8.8 billion in U.S. aid for crucial medical services. Tomorrow, he will become the first sitting president to address the March for Life, an anti-abortion rally that happens annually in Washington D.C. With the 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade on Monday, the government must protect women’s abortion rights and stop these attacks on women’s health care once and for all.
ACTION OF THE DAY
#ProtectDreamers. Tomorrow is the deadline for Congress to fund the government and pass a Dream Act that would ensure permanent protections for Dreamers. These young people are critical to their local communities, and passing a Dream Act would add at least $22.7 billion annually to the U.S. GDP. Several members of Congress have said they won’t vote for a spending bill without protections for Dreamers, but President Trump continues to refuse to negotiate in good faith. Watch this video about why the fight for Dreamers is so important. Then, call your members of Congress today at 202-224-3121, and demand they refuse to vote for any bill that doesn’t provide a fix for Dreamers. You can also use our easy toolkit to contact key targets!
Shutdown Chaos. With only one day until the government shuts down unless a spending bill is passed, the situation in Congress and in the White House seem more chaotic than ever. Some congressional Republicans have suggested tying CHIP funding to a short-term continuing resolution. But Trump seemed to destroy that possibility, by tweeting this morning that CHIP should not be included in a short-term bill. It seems clear that not only does Trump refuse to consider bipartisan bills, but the congressional majority cannot even agree among themselves. Remember: “If the government closes, it will be the first time under unified party control of Congress and the White House.”
Russia…and the NRA? According to a new report, the FBI is investigating whether “a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency.” Others have noted that the NRA has been tied to Russia; in 2016, Think Progress explored that odd relationship. It discovered numerous ties between the NRA and The Right to Bear Arms, a Russian gun rights group, including meetings between the Russian group and leaders of the NRA in Russia. The new investigation will look into the $30 million the NRA spent in “independent expenditures” to ensure a Trump presidency—money who was donated by still-unknown entities.
Extremist Violence Rising. Just a day after the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security published a misleading, alarmist report on terrorism, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has released their annual report on extremist-related killings. The ADL found that “the number of white supremacist murders in the United States more than doubled in 2017 compared to the previous year, far surpassing murders committed by domestic Islamic extremists.” Listening to Trump’s Islamophobic rhetoric, it would seem as if the U.S. is under assault by Islamic extremists; but, the reality is that the U.S. is in more danger from white supremacists—a strong part of Trump’s base. In fact, 2017 is the “fifth deadliest year on record for extremist violence since 1970.” DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen should probably take a look at the report, considering she did not even mention right-wing extremist violence in the U.S. during her testimony about threats to the U.S. this week.
UNDER THE RADAR
Allow Guns Or Pay Up. A new bill in New Hampshire would require that schools allow guns on campus—or pay a fine. Advocates of the bill argue that schools are actually safer when guns are allowed, as citizens can protect against any gun violence. This myth of a “good guy with a gun” has proven false over and over again; in fact, bystanders trying to take control of situations with their own guns can make these instances even more deadly. Some even assert that gun laws don’t matter because criminals will break the law anyways. But, a study conducted by the Center for American Progress in 2016 found that the “10 states with the weakest gun laws have an aggregate level of gun violence that is more than three times higher than the 10 states with the strongest gun laws.” There is strong opposition to guns in schools, and New Hampshire must reject this bill to ensure the continued safety of its students.