Joe Biden’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued guidance Wednesday reminding pharmacists of an alleged legal obligation to fulfill prescriptions for abortion pills regardless of state laws and restrictions.
In the newly released guidance, HHS said that pharmacists who receive Medicare or Medicaid funding are prohibited by federal nondiscrimination law from discriminating based on sex. The directive noted that this includes supplying prescribed medications or determining the suitability of prescribed medications for patients, specifically pregnant women.
Biden’s administration is overlooking state laws and threatening civil rights violations for pharmacists who refuse to fill the abortion medication prescriptions.
The department cited federal civil rights law prohibiting “pregnancy discrimination,” which includes medical conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth.
“We are committed to ensuring that everyone can access health care, free of discrimination,” HHS Director Xavier Becerra wrote in the new guidance. “This includes access to prescription medications for reproductive health and other types of care.”
“The Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS or Department) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for protecting the rights of women and pregnant people in their ability to access care that is free from discrimination,” the guidance reads. “This includes their ability to access reproductive health care, including prescription medication from their pharmacy, free from discrimination.”
The HHS document lists alleged discriminations according to these laws, including refusing to give a patient plan B after a sexual assault. It also refers to pregnancy at one point as the “growing of cells.”
Notably, the guidance uses the phrase “may be discriminating of the basis of sex.” The statement follows each example of refusing medications related to abortion. It is clear that Biden’s leadership is unsure of its ability to uphold any form of a civil rights violation.
The guidance also takes aim at religious beliefs, pointing to the Church Amendments, which have allowed providers to refuse specific procedures or services based on religious beliefs.
The guidance does not contradict but states that it will evaluate the impact of religious exemptions. It says, “This guidance does not address how the Church Amendments would apply in a given case. OCR will evaluate and apply the Church Amendments on a case-by-case basis.”
As part of this latest announcement, HHS outlined the steps the Biden administration has taken since the overturning of Roe v. Wade to protect abortion access, including launching ReproductiveRights.gov and announcing $3 million in new funding to train “family planning providers.”
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