Last month, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency released new health and safety standards for transgender detainees in immigration detention, ensuring that those individuals are placed in facilities by the gender with which they identify and that they have access to hormone therapy and other necessary medical care. Transgender health specialists praised the new rules for moving in the right direction to “protect our community,” but anti-gay conservatives are now speaking out against the changes and characterizing the regulations as “bad, radical social policy” that are a “trial balloon” for Obamacare.
The Family Research Council’s (FRC) Tony Perkins made that case this afternoon, during an appearance on Fox News’ American Newsroom with Megyn Kelly. Perkins accused the agency of providing free abortions without “restrictions” and funding “cross-dressing”:
PERKINS: As we saw the mandate that just came down on contraception, this will be another mandate that will be included in the Obamacare. Because HHS can write the rules, and they’re going to see how far they can push this. [...]
KELLY: But in defense of the administration, what are they supposed to do? If they have an illegal immigrant in custody and she, she is, she needs an abortion to save her life –
PERKINS: Well, if that’s the case — it’s the terminology here. You never need an abortion to save the life of a mother.
PERKINS: The mother is the primary patient. If you’re working to save the life of the mother and the child dies, that’s not an abortion….You talk about the issue of rape, that’s such a small percentage of pregnancies that are out there. Plus, how do you verify that that, in fact, is the case? That it’s a case of rape? Again, this comes down to government funds being used to advance radical social policy that is masquerading as health care.
Rather than advancing a social policy (as Perkins himself is doing), the government is paying for services that are deemed medically necessary for the health of the detainee. For instance, abortion is only financed by the government “if the life of the mother would be endangered by carrying a fetus to term, or in the case of rape or incest.” Women who undergo the procedure for any other reason, would have to fund the service themselves. Similarly, “Transgender detainees who were already receiving hormone therapy when taken into ICE custody shall have continued access,” the guidelines state. “All transgender detainees shall have access to mental health care, and other transgender-related health care and medication based on medical need. Treatment shall follow accepted guidelines regarding medically necessary transition-related care.”
The government isn’t interfering in the relationship between the detainee and their doctor, but ensuring that the United States adhere to the accepted standards of treating all with humanity and proper medical care. That’s a cause that any “values” organization should be able to rally behind.