On the 17th May, The U.S. House of Representatives voted 236-173 to approve the Equality Act that would give landmark federal protection to LGBTQ individuals despite opposition in the White House
As an inclusive, compassionate and non-judgmental sexual and reproductive health care provider, Planned Parenthood applauds Congress’ historic legislation to protect and strengthen the civil rights of LGBTQ people across the country.
There are currently no federal protections for LGBTQ people in the United States, leaving individuals vulnerable to discrimination in health care, employment, housing, credit, public spaces and services, education, federally assisted programs, and jury service. In 30 states, LGBTQ people can be fired, refused housing, or denied services because of who they are.
The bill was introduced with bipartisan support by Representatives David Cicilline (D-RI) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) in the House and passed on Friday (17 May 2019) with bipartisan support.
Planned Parenthood is proud to provide health care to LGBTQ people across the country — including breast and cervical cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, and birth control. Health centres in 28 states provide hormone therapy, and some also provide puberty blockers. Many health centres also offer pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) –– a daily pill that can help reduce transmission for people who are at high risk for HIV –– and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) –– a series of pills that, if taken within 72 hours of being exposed to HIV, can lower your chances of getting it.
Statement from Dr Leana Wen, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“For too long, LGBTQ communities have been among our nation’s most vulnerable. The majority of Americans support laws to protect our LGBTQ friends, family members, and co-workers from discrimination.
“Yet, the Trump-Pence administration has attacked and attempted to erase LGBTQ people, many of whom rely on Planned Parenthood for health care.
Today, Congress listened to the people and passed historic legislation to bring clear and consistent protections for people who face barriers because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
“We at Planned Parenthood applaud the bill’s champions in Congress and look forward to continuing our work to serve LGBTQ and all communities. We call on the Senate to stop the obstruction, bring this bill to a vote, and support the rights and freedoms of all communities.”
LGBTQ people experience high rates of discrimination from medical providers, and in a 2017 survey, nearly one-third of transgender people surveyed said a doctor or health care provider refused to treat them due to their gender identity.
The Equality Act would push back on the Trump-Pence administration’s attempt to block LGBTQ people from health care, including efforts as described below.
Proposed “License to Discriminate” in Health Care
The administration’s proposed refusal of care rule would allow health care workers to put their beliefs ahead of people’s health by refusing to provide care or information to patients. If it takes effect, this dangerous rule puts patients’ health at risk, especially for women and LGBTQ people. It is unprecedented in its expansive approach and could give any health care worker — from pharmacists to volunteers — license to deny patients access to abortion and other reproductive and sexual health services, deny LGBTQ people potentially life-saving health care, or deny any other service the health care worker deems divergent to their personal beliefs.
A transgender patient could be denied hormone therapy or be unable to get emergency medical care because their doctor or nurse refuses to provide this care. A final rule is currently under review at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.
Plans to stop Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) non-discrimination provision
It’s been reported that the administration also plans to rewrite Section 1557 of the ACA — a provision that bars discrimination in health care — to exclude transgender people. A proposed rule is currently under review at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.