The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said it opposes President Donald J. Trump’s recent executive order on free speech and religious liberty, stating that it limits access to evidence-based women’s preventive services, including contraception, and allows employers to impose their personal beliefs on their employees’ health care coverage.
“Health care policymaking that is not based on scientific or medical evidence is dangerous for our patients. This executive order represents political interference in the practice of medicine, and wrongly places politicians and employers between patients and their trusted physicians,” ACOG said in a statement. “All health care decisions — including decisions about reproductive health — should be made by a woman and her doctor, free from political interference.”
The executive order has several sections, including one that directs the Secretaries of Treasury, Labor and HHS to “consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address “conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate.”
Media outlets, including NBC News and the Los Angeles Times, reported that the executive order provides more freedom for companies that object to the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act. In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby that the mandate violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The American College of Physicians (ACP) also expressed concern about the potential impact that the new executive order may have on certain populations, arguing that it may reduce access to contraception and weaken protections against discrimination for LBGTQ individuals, according to a press release.
“While the order does not yet specifically make any changes in federal regulations affecting women’s access to contraception or non-discrimination against LGBTQ persons, it creates a process that could result in adverse impacts on them,” Susan Thompson Hingle, MD, chair of ACP, said in the release.
In a separate statement, HHS Secretary Tom Price, MD, said that agency will move swiftly on the President’s executive order “to safeguard the deeply held religious beliefs of Americans who provide health insurance to their employees.”
ACOG had previously criticized President Trump signing into law an action that rescinded another President Obama-era rule that prohibited states from restricting federal Title X funding for any reason other than an organization’s ability to perform the services being funded, opening the door for states to direct funds away from Planned Parenthood. - by Janel Miller
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