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Opinion: The crusade for ‘religious liberty’ will reverberate badly in health care

Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh looks over notes as he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the third day of his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill. Source: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Not that long ago, there was little difference between a physician and a preacher, a clinic and a chapel, a patient and a proselyte. Instead of prescribing medications, healers chanted hymns; instead of prescribing painkillers, they offered prayers.

Faith remains an integral part of human society and the modern hospital is a place where patients and physicians of all faiths work together. I am a Muslim physician who trained at a Boston hospital formed because none of the other local hospitals would offer Jewish doctors a job. On any given day, I see patients from myriad faiths, not to mention cultural backgrounds and sexual orientations.

I worry that the Trump administration is turning that directs federal agencies to give individuals and organizations great freedom to act — or refuse action — if they believe it impinges on their freedom of religious expression. This builds on the Department of Health and Human Services creating a , making it easier for doctors and nurses to refuse to treat patients based on religious or cultural objections.

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