One Iowa Questions Formation of HHS Conscience and Religious Freedom Division

On Thursday, Jan. 18, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the formation of a Conscience and Religious Freedom Division in the HHS Office for Civil Rights. According to the announcement, the new division has been established to “restore federal enforcement of our nation’s laws that protect the fundamental and unalienable rights of conscience and religious freedom.”

One Iowa Executive Director Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel issued a statement questioning the new division’s formation:

“The announcement of this division indicates that the Office of Civil Rights is making ‘religious freedom and conscience rights’ a priority. While this sounds good in theory, it is all too common for phrases like ‘religious freedom’ and ‘conscience’ to be used to make discrimination against LGBTQ people sound more palatable.

“Ensuring LGBTQ Iowans have access to health care is one of One Iowa’s top priorities. We will be keeping a close eye on this new division and monitoring whether it equally protects the civil rights of all people.”