US: LGBT+ advocates sue U.S. government over healthcare 'conscience rule'

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - LGBT+ advocates filed a lawsuit on Tuesday to block a rule the U.S. government said will allow medical professionals to act according their consciences, but that critics said could deny care to those in need.

Under the more than 400-page rule written by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, hospitals and doctors’ offices must certify they are protecting employee consciences and religious rights or lose federal funding.

The so-called “conscience rule,” which could take effect as early as July, permits health workers to opt out of procedures such as abortions and sterilizations which violate their beliefs.

The rule also opens the door to denial of care for LGBT+ patients seeking surgical transitions or hormone treatment, Jamie Gliksberg, an attorney with LGBT+ rights group Lambda Legal told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“When patients cannot be out to providers about their sexual orientation or gender identity, out of fear of being refused treatment, their mental and physical health is critically compromised,” Gliksberg said.

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