HHS Watch is a campaign that examines decision makers at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through a full audit into the positions and backgrounds of appointees and continuous monitoring of their actions.
Trump Administration HHS appointees are seeking to undermine proven, popular, and effective reproductive health programs, as well as Americans’ independent reproductive health decisions.
On January 18, the Trump Administration announced a new division with the HHS Office of Civil Rights that will support medical providers who deny service to anyone based on their own moral or religious reasons. This change threatens access to birth control, abortion, and reproductive health care for millions – particularly those in underserved communities who already don’t have a wealth of high-quality options for places to receive care. Equity Forward believes that all changes should happen with full transparency and accountability.
Click HERE to read Equity Forward’s statement on conscience protection changes.
Roger Severino, Director, HHS Office Of Civil Rights
Roger Severino, as director of the Office of Civil Rights, is spearheading the Trump Administration’s “conscience protection” efforts at HHS. He has built a career within far right-wing circles advocating for overt discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and more.
Prior to serving at HHS, Severino worked at right-wing organizations including the Heritage Foundation and the Becket Fund …
- “Severino, a Harvard Law School graduate who served as director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the conservative Heritage Foundation, has written and published extensively against leftist “gender ideology” and the Obama administration’s promotion of transgenderism in the military.” [LifeSiteNews, 4/11/17]
- “Prior to his work at The Heritage Foundation, Severino was a trial attorney for the United States Department of Justice. He also served as legal counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. Severino received his Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School.” [Health Care IT News, 3/24/17]
- “He also worked at the Becket Fund, the religious-liberty law firm best known for its victories in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell—cases litigated after Severino’s tenure that challenged Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate on religious grounds.” [The Atlantic, 6/7/17]
… and has been a vocal opponent of abortion, despite it being legal in the U.S. for more than 40 years.
- “For his part, Severino has been an outspoken advocate against abortion and same-sex marriage.” [The Atlantic, 6/7/17]
Severino has long been fixated on birth control and gender identity. The HHS Office of Civil Rights is now putting Severino’s beliefs into action under his leadership.
- “The Obama administration is hostile to religious freedom,” said Severino. “We have seen this with Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor.” “Now the administration is trying to advance a specific gender ideology that redefines what it means to be a man or a woman,” he said. “This gender ideology will result in discriminating against people who believe that a person’s biology is something to be respected rather than something that should be treated as a disease.” [Eurasia Review, 2/4/16]
- “The issue that most sets Severino apart from others in the D.C. civil-rights community is LGBT rights. At Heritage, Severino vigorously argued against legalizing same-sex marriage and mandated accommodations for transgender individuals in school locker rooms or public bathrooms. He also took a strong stance against the previous administration’s ruling on Section 1557. In a January 2016 report co-authored with Ryan Anderson, who also led Heritage’s campaign against the legalization of same-sex marriage, Severino argued that ‘gender identity and sexual orientation … are changeable, self-reported, and entirely self-defined characteristics’ that do not deserve the protected-class status given to sex, race, and several other categories under federal civil-rights statutes.” [The Atlantic, 6/7/17]