Appointment of Roger Severino yields an Anti Reproductive Rights Director to Lead Office for Civil Rights At Department of Health and Human Services
WASHINGTON, DC, March 24, 2017 –Today, Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law issued the following statement in response to the appointment of Roger Severino to serve as Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services:
“Roger Severino is anti-choice, anti-reproductive rights, anti-Planned Parenthood and opposed to many of the core interests that have historically been protected by the Department of Health and Human Services. Severino’s record stands contrary to the very mission of the Department of Health and Human Services. Severino believes that anti-discrimination laws should not protect the LGBTQ community from discrimination by those who purport to hold a sincerely held religious belief. Severino’s appointment to Direct the Office for Civil Rights at HHS makes clear that this administration stands prepared to undermine civil rights enforcement at every turn.”
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has conducted an extensive review of Roger Severino’s record. Core findings of this review include the following:
- Severino is anti-choice. Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt, 136 S. Ct. 2292, 2299 (2016), as revised (June 27, 2016), Severino published an article criticizing the decision. Severino categorized the decision as “continu[ing] the long, deadly shadow that the court’s abortion decisions have cast over American law, medicine, and society. It has allowed abortion extremists to keep substandard abortion clinics open, and has hamstrung states’ ability to put women’s health and safety first.”
- Severino is anti-reproductive rights. Severino advocates completely defunding Planned Parenthood, stating that “Planned Parenthood has once again proven it does two things exceedingly well—ending innocent human lives in the womb for a fee, and getting American taxpayers to subsidize its operations.”
- Severino favors religious exemptions for government mandated health care: In Zubik v. Burwell, 136 S. Ct. 1557 (2016), the Supreme Court vacated a series of Court of Appeals decisions concerning religious exemptions to the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act and remanded those cases back to the lower courts to consider the burden imposed in requiring non-profit religious organizations to fill out a form notifying the government that they objected to providing contraceptive coverage. Severino praised the Court’s decision as recognition that the ACA imposed an undue burden on religious organizations’ exercise of their religious freedoms.
The Department of Health and Human Services provides critical social service and health programs that ensure the health and wellness of Americans.
Yesterday we reported on Severino as a long time opponent of transgender rights.