Editor's note - I'm running this post early because I figure after that final vote on that awful GOP tax bill, our minds will be caught up elsewhere.
The Department of Health and Human Services is now under fire for a decision which could negatively affect women seeking abortions and transgender men and women seeking medical care.
And it looks like a former employee of anti-LGBTQ hate group the Family Research Council is linked to it.
HHS is defending its decision to withhold more than 10,000 public comments on a proposal that could affect access to abortion and care for transgender patients.
“There has been a voluminous response to the [request for information], and the center’s team is working through a review of the submissions,” Shannon Royce, who leads the agency’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and is overseeing the proposal, said in a statement on Monday night.
The Trump administration in October sought public comments on its plan to reduce HHS' regulations for religious and faith-based groups. Allies and opponents of the plan say the stakes are high: Loosening the current requirements could allow such groups to cite religious exemptions and deny certain services and care. For example, Catholic hospitals could gain new protections to refuse to provide abortions.
. . . While HHS received 10,729 comments on its proposal, the agency has only posted 80 comments — less than 1 percent of all submissions — that overwhelmingly back the administration’s anti-abortion policies or attack regulations advanced by the Obama administration, such as a rule forcing health care providers that accept federal funding to provide services to transgender patients. Sources with knowledge of HHS' decision say the agency hand-picked the comments that it released.
According to the article, lawyers from all sides are bickering over whether or not this is illegal, with some saying that it really doesn't matter at all.
However, the article also contains an item which, if we lived in a world where people weren't so oblivious about certain things which are so obvious, would properly explain the fears some have about this policy and especially how it is being presented.
The person overseeing the proposal, Shannon Royce, served as chief operating officer the Family Research Council until May of this year.
Politico calls Royce an anti-abortion activist and the Southern Poverty Law Center has called the Family Research Council an anti-LGBTQ hate group because it spreads negative and false narratives about the LGBTQ community (such as claiming that gay men molest children at a high level or implying homosexuality itself is a public health hazard).
In recent years, FRC has aimed a lot of its efforts in denigrating the transgender community, including creating false policy papers filled with dubious claims and nasty rhetoric or lying about transgender troops serving in the military.
So to cut through all of the blather, this is the controversy:
HHS is issuing a proposal which could negatively affect a woman's access to an abortion and the transgender community's access to medical care in general because of the "religious liberty" argument. The agency invited the public to give comments on this proposal but published less than one percent of the comments, with the majority being from people who support the proposal.
And the proposal is being overseen by a person who opposes abortions and, until very recently, was a high ranking officer in an organization who is known to have spread false stories and dubious claims about the transgender community.
It's safe to say suggest that this proposal and the seemingly unscrupulous way it is being handled has nothing to do with fairness, safety, or health. Unfortunately, it's all about ideology.