Press Release

AFT President Randi Weingarten Condemns Creation of New Conscience and Religious Freedom Division in US Health and Human Services Department

For Release:


Marcus Mrowka
202-531-0689 (cell)

WASHINGTON—Statement of AFT President Randi Weingarten on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ formation of a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division in the HHS Office for Civil Rights:

“Our Constitution’s First Amendment works in tandem with the rights embedded in our other amendments; it should not be used to undermine those other rights, or the right to medical care. 

“Like the Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby decision, the administration seems intent on using the Constitution’s free exercise of religion protections as a means to undermine other people’s civil rights and to allow people to be turned away when they need lifesaving care. How terrible to be deprived of needed medical attention and care because of gender or sexual orientation. How terrible to have that discrimination sanctioned by our government. This is turning back the clock on liberty and should not be countenanced.”

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.