Roger Severino, director of civil rights at the Health Department, made this disgusting comparison at an official press conference announcing a new Trump policy.
Donald Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rolled out an offensive new policy in the most offensive way imaginable.
On Thursday morning, the department held a press conference to announce the formation of a so-called Conscience and Religious Freedom Division of the agency’s Civil Rights Division, to “protect” health care practitioners who discriminate against women seeking reproductive care, trans people seeking medical treatment, and others whose needs might conflict with their “consciences.”
Roger Severino, director of the Office for Civil Rights at HHS, opened by comparing people who would engage in such discrimination with Jews murdered during the Holocaust and with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Severino said he first became “aware of the notion” of conscience protection when he saw a book on the Holocaust.
“There was one photograph in particular, which was an outline that looked like a footprint, and there was writing in Hebrew,” Severino said. “And when I looked on the caption, it said it was a cutout of a shoe insole that the Nazis had forced Jews to wear on their shoes, so that every step they took, they will be violating their conscience.”
“I could see the common humanity of why if somebody’s forced to violate their conscience in every step they take, how it’s an attack, really, on their human dignity,” he continued.
Severino then invoked King’s letter from a Birmingham jail, and made the comparison explicit by adding, “And now we’ve come to today. Where we see that health care, especially with the Office of Civil Rights at HHS, is the next area where the issues of conscience and the issues of life and death are coming to the fore.”
Donald Trump and his religious right base deserve each other. Trump exploits their bigotry while mocking them in private, and the radical religious right swallows his moral depravity so they can impose their bigotry on others. The American people deserve neither of them.