Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Lawsuit will hopefully expose passive/aggressive homophobia behind 'right to refusal' rule

Wonderful news today via Raw Story:

The Trump administration’s Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) is facing two separate lawsuits just filed by the ACLU and by Planned Parenthood. The filings seek to strike down a new policy that would give people of faith special religious rights to discriminate, especially against LGBT people and women.  
 The new policy, slated to go into effect July 22, would provide “conscience protections” to health care workers and professionals. Those protections would allow, say, a doctor to not perform an abortion, even to save the life of a mother. They would allow, for example, a physician or nurse practitioner to reject a gay man on the grounds his very being violates their religious beliefs. Courthouse News’ 
 Adam Klasfeld posted a portion of the lawsuit which says the Refusal of Care Rule would “allow almost any health care provider – including hospitals or individual workers in the health care setting … to refuse to provide, assist with, or refer for virtually any health service, based solely on a personal objection.” The rule would also make it legal to withhold information from patients, and without telling them.

While I'm not attempting to minimize the danger this rule would do to women's health, I think I should speak on what I am more knowledgeable about - how it endangers LGBTQ health.

Aside from outright refusals to serve LGBTQ patients and/or their families, there is a nasty passive/aggressive element which no one talks about. This rules seems  less about protecting religious beliefs and more about exploiting said beliefs to intimidate LGBTQ  people. This intimidation serves to create to systemic negative health behavior which will in turn be exploited by the anti-LGBTQ industry.

Historically, one of the impediments to good health in our community is the fear of being attacked, stigmatized or outed. There is a plethora of horror stories which resulted from someone who we trusted with our health forgetting their oaths of "do no harm:"

Discrimination in health care settings endangers LGBTQ people’s lives through delays or denials of medically necessary care. For example, after one patient with HIV disclosed to a hospital that he had sex with other men, the hospital staff refused to provide his HIV medication. In another case, a transgender teenager who was admitted to a hospital for suicidal ideation and self-inflicted injuries was repeatedly misgendered and then discharged early by hospital staff. He later committed suicide. Discrimination affects LGBTQ parents as well: In Michigan, an infant was turned away from a pediatrician’s office because she had same-sex parents. Even though many states, such as Michigan, lack explicit statewide laws against LGBTQ discrimination in health care, Section 1557 of the ACA provides federal protections.

And this does unfortunately lead to the inability of the LGBTQ community to have our health issues addressed in a proper manner:

 . . . even when LGBTQ patients do have access to medical care, they can struggle to find providers who can meet their needs. Doctors may lack the knowledge and training to address LGBTQ-specific concerns. And sometimes, doctors simply lack the willingness to treat LGBTQ patients with compassion and respect — or even treat them at all. This lack of "culturally competent care," as it's called, is another driver of LGBTQ health disparities. And as INSIDER learned in interviews with members of the community, it can make for some annoying, uncomfortable, even devastating experiences in the doctor's office.

So this "refusal of care" rule could make things worse.  The rule not only give physicians the right to refuse to treat us, it also creates an atmosphere of fear and intimidation which could make us less likely to seek medical care. And don't for minute think that those groups and personalities who attack our right to equality aren't aware of this. On Tuesday, Family Research Council spokesman Peter Sprigg published a piece attacking LGBTQ Pride Month. In it,  Sprigg speaks about the HIV rate in our community as a way of stigmatizing us:

Men who have sex with men, in particular, have high rates of HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases as a direct result of that sexual behavior—so is it something to be “proud” of?

Sprigg cites information from the Center for Disease Control for his attack. Conveniently, he omits the information on the same page which refutes his inference about gay men:

Homophobia, stigma, and discrimination may place gay and bisexual men at risk for multiple physical and mental health problems and may affect whether they seek and are able to obtain high-quality health services. Socioeconomic factors, such as having limited access to quality health care, lower income and educational levels, and higher rates of unemployment and incarceration, may place some gay and bisexual men at higher risk for HIV.

It's not accidental that Sprigg omitted that information. And should this rule go into effect and cause damage to LGBTQ health, it won't be accidental that Sprigg will take full advantage of this damage to further the false "homosexuality is a dangerous lifestyle" narrative.

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