On September 27, the US Department of Health and Human Services released its draft strategic plan for 2018-2022. It sets out agency objectives for the next four years, but includes several troubling proposals.
Under the draft strategic plan, HHS contractors and grantees could claim the right to use their religious beliefs to decide whom they will serve and which services they will provide in taxpayer-funded programs. These HHS-funded organizations could claim a right to refuse to serve LGBTQ families and single mothers, for example. They could also claim a right to refuse to provide needed reproductive healthcare, gender-affirming care, PrEP, or counseling to interfaith couples or couples with a partner who is divorced.
Religiously affiliated contractors and grantees could also use religion as an excuse to ignore laws that bar discrimination in hiring and refuse to hire someone because he or she is the “wrong religion” or is a single mother.
The plan also threatens women’s access to critical healthcare services including birth control, in vitro fertilization (IVF), and abortion by adopting the religious belief that life begins at conception as a basis for policy.
The draft strategic plan is the first example of how federal agencies will implement the Department of Justice guidance on “religious freedom” and its blueprint for using religion as an excuse to harm others.
Plan Status Draft