Jan. 19, 2018
Contact: Alexa Mauzy-Lewis, Camino PR
212.255.2575 /

WASHINGTON D.C. — Yesterday, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it will be expanding religious and moral objection protections for health workers under the Office of Civil Rights with its new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division. This includes “conscience” protections against patients seeking abortion and transgender patients. National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) Executive Director Sung Yeon Choimorrow released the following statement in response:

“Everyone deserves to receive the care they need, regardless of their race, creed, gender, or immigration status. The Trump administration’s decision to devote resources to shielding healthcare providers that deny care based on their personal beliefs is a threat to our fundamental human right to health.

“This so-called ‘religious freedom’ protection will specifically target and harm women and LGBTQ people. Under the false pretense of religious freedom, we have seen hospitals refuse to treat or refer someone who needs an abortion; women suffering miscarriages being denied the care they need; and health care providers blatantly refusing to care for transgender individuals.

“The Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, who already face heightened barriers to health care access, will be subjected to even further discrimination — especially transgender and gender non-conforming AAPI people. Nearly a fourth of AAPI respondents to the 2015 US Transgender Survey said they avoided going to a health care provider because of fear of discrimination. This office will only amplify the culture of fear.

“The Office of Civil Rights has a responsibility to enforce all federal health care anti-discrimination laws. Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act contains important protections for women and transgender individuals in this country that cannot be overlooked by this division’s disguise of ‘moral’ protections. Patients’ health needs should always come first.

“Access to health services are essential to ensuring health and wellness for the AAPI community. No corporation or institution should be able to put religious views ahead of medical standards or a person’s health and well-being. We cannot realize reproductive justice until everyone has full access to health care, no matter who they are.”


The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF): NAPAWF is the only multi-issue, progressive, community organizing and policy advocacy organization for Asian American and Pacific Islander women and girls in the U.S. NAPAWF’s mission is to build a movement to advance social justice and human rights for Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) women and girls.