Newswise — WASHINGTON – Following is the statement of Rosie Phillips Davis, PhD, president of the American Psychological Association, in response to the administration’s announcement of new “conscience protections” for health care providers, insurers and employers who refuse to provide or pay for services including abortion, sterilization or assisted suicide:

“Health care providers’ religious- and conscience-based right to act according to their beliefs is already enshrined in law and needs not be expanded. This rule is likely to prevent access to reproductive health care and information, particularly for low-income and minority women, and could also prevent access to care and information for other populations, specifically lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and individuals living with HIV and AIDS. This so-called ‘conscience rule’ is flatly unconscionable.”

Davis was responding to a final federal rule, issued Thursday by the Department of Health and Human Services, stipulating that health care providers, insurers and other entities will be allowed to refuse to provide, participate in, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer patients for abortion, sterilization, assisted suicide and advance directives. The rule expands on the powers of HHS’s Office for Civil Rights.

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. APA's membership includes nearly 118,400 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve lives.

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