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HHS being sued over policy giving special religious rights to healthcare professionals over LGBT people and women

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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.

The new HHS rule is merely the extension of a Trump administration plan to decimate the rights of women and minorities, under the guise of religious freedom. It is being enacted by Roger Severino (photo), a far right wing religious extremist who now heads HHS’s Office for Civil Rights.

News about the new rule first leaked in April.

“Patients want doctors who match their values,” Severino said, defending the proposed rule weeks later.

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Severino once served as the CEO and counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a far right wing religious legal organization. He also worked for The Heritage Foundation, and for the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society. The Human Rights Campaign has called him a “radical anti-LGBTQ activist.”

In early 2018 Severino created the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division in HHS’s Office of Civil Rights, in order to prioritize supposed cases of anti-religious discrimination among medical professionals.

“Severino is a defender of the discredited practice of conversion therapy, argued transgender service members ‘dishonors’ the military, and insisted that anti-LGBTQ discrimination is ‘based not on any sort of hatred but, in fact, out of love,'” GLAAD said in a statement at the time.

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Honduran forces fire on students, 5 hurt: officials

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Honduran military police opened fire on protesting students at a university on Monday, wounding at least five, campus and hospital officials said.

Hundreds of students at the National Autonomous University of Honduras were demanding the resignation of the country's president, Juan Orlando Hernandez, after demonstrations against him intensified last week when three people were killed in protests.

"About 40 military police entered the university campus without authorization," Armando Sarmiento, director of institutional development at the Tegucigalpa-based university, told AFP.

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Health care price transparency: Fool’s gold, or real money in your pocket?

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The news is full of stories about monumental surprise hospital bills, sky-high drug prices and patients going bankrupt. The government’s approach to addressing this, via an executive order that President Trump signed June 24, 2019, is to make hospitals post their list prices online so that patients supposedly can comparison shop. But this is fool’s gold – information that doesn’t address the real question about why these prices are so high in the first place.

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2020 Election

Running while brown: How Texas’ Julián Castro is navigating white presidential politics

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By the time his plane touched down in California at the end of a whirlwind week, Julián Castro had set an early political benchmark in the crowded presidential race.

It was early April, and the former mayor and housing secretary had just released a sweeping immigration policy platform, garnering national headlines and widespread praise from immigration reform advocates who went as far as calling his proposals “exactly what we need in this moment.”

Castro was still struggling to break from the pack, but he was the first in the field with a detailed plan to tackle the one issue that could come to define the 2020 presidential campaign. Yet when he sat down for an interview on comedian Bill Maher’s television show, the host instead catalogued Castro’s proposal in terms that the white men also running for president would surely never face.

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