A new Trump administration proposal would change the civil rights rules dictating whether providers must care for patients who are transgender or have had an abortion. Supporters of the approach say it protects the freedom of conscience, but opponents say it encourages discrimination.
The sweeping proposal has implications for all Americans, though, because the Department of Health and Human Services seeks to change how far civil rights protections extend and how those protections are enforced.
Roger Severino, the director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights, has been candid about his intentions to overturn an Obama-era rule that prohibited discrimination based on gender identity and termination of a pregnancy. In 2016, while at the conservative Heritage Foundation, he co-authored a paper arguing the restrictions threaten the independence of physicians to follow their religious or moral beliefs.
His office unveiled the proposed rule on May 24, when many people were focused on the start of the long Memorial Day holiday weekend.
The rule is the latest Trump administration proposal to strip protections for transgender Americans, coming the same week another directive was proposed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development that would allow homeless shelters to turn away people based on their gender identity.
The public was given 60 days to comment on the HHS proposal. Here's a rundown of what you need to know about it.
-- What would this proposal do?
Fundamentally, the proposed rule would overturn a previous rule that forbids health care providers who receive federal funding from discriminating against patients on the basis of their gender identity or whether they have terminated a pregnancy.
The Trump administration proposal would eliminate those protections, enabling providers to deny these groups care or insurance coverage without having to pay a fine or suffer other federal consequences.
That may mean refusing a transgender patient mental health care or gender-confirming surgery. But it may also mean denying patients care that has nothing to do with gender identity, such as a regular office visit for a bad cold or ongoing treatment for chronic conditions like diabetes.