Search form

Group 4 Created with Sketch.
Back to HHS Watch

Luis Perez

Deputy Director of Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, Office for Civil Rights

Luis Perez assumed the role of Deputy Director of the Office for Civil Rights' (OCR) Conscience and Religious Freedom (CRF) division with its creation in 2018.

HOW THEIR ROLE AFFECTS ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

Luis Perez “heads up” the Office for Civil Rights’ (OCR) new Conscience and Religious Freedom (CRF) division, which was announced in January 2018: “The Conscience and Religious Freedom Division has been established to restore federal enforcement of our nation’s laws that protect the fundamental and unalienable rights of conscience and religious freedom…The creation of the new division will provide HHS with the focus it needs to more vigorously and effectively enforce existing laws protecting the rights of conscience and religious freedom, the first freedom protected in the Bill of Rights.” As of July 2018, the new division received more than 800 complaints, according to Perez.

The Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is charged with enforcing anti-discrimination laws, health privacy laws and conscience laws. The Washington Post reported that the Office for Civil Rights during Trump’s tenure “has been greatly strengthening and expanding protections for health care providers who have religious- or conscience-based objections to procedures such as abortion.” It went on to say that “the makeover appears radical, one that critics worry will jeopardize the care of pregnant women and transgender individuals, as well as others who could be denied certain procedures.”

As its director, Luis Perez will likely have significant influence over the CRF division’s operations, including the criteria it uses to evaluate claims of health care-related religious freedom or conscience-based violations, its interpretation of germane rules and laws and how it goes about resolving alleged violations.

HIGHLIGHTS

Perez Spoke At The Saint Thomas More Society Of Central Pennsylvania:

According to its website, Perez was the keynote speaker at the Saint Thomas More Society of Central Pennsylvania’s annual meeting on November 8, 2018. The organization describes its purpose as: “To promote the spiritual and intellectual welfare of its members; to promote the study of the application of Christian principles to modern problems; to promote the study of the principles of the Catholic Church relating to moral and legal problems encountered in the practice of law; to promote the study of Canon Law by Catholic lawyers; to provide assistance to all interested members of the clergy on moral problems confronting the practicing lawyer and on matters of statewide and national importance; to acquaint its members, law students and the public about the inspiring life and ideals of Saint Thomas More.”

THE WHOLE STORY

Luis Perez: Office For Civil RightsConscience And Religious Freedom Division Is Particularly Focused On Supporting Those Who Oppose Abortion

When Asked About The Purpose And Duties Of The Conscience And Religious Freedom Division, Perez Primarily Spoke About Fielding Complaints From Healthcare Providers Who Oppose Abortion

In A Podcast Interview With Family Life News, Perez Said His Division Exists To Ensure That Healthcare Providers “Do Not Have To Make That Untenable Choice Between Providing Medical Services Or Being Faithful To Their Religious Beliefs”; He Went On To Primarily Cite Examples Involving Abortion. “The division specializes in the implementation and enforcement of — and ensures compliance with — laws protecting conscience and the free exercise of religion, and religious discrimination. So, to put this in lay terms, we wanna make sure that medical providers in the conscience area do not have to make the untenable choice between practicing medicine or providing medical services, or being faithful to their religious beliefs. And that is a concept that is enshrined in our Constitution, in our First Amendment. It is also a concept where Congress has had consensus over the years, in the context of the healthcare industry. Even after the issuance of Roe vs. Wade, Congress came to a consensus where they said regardless of the legality of abortions, doctors and medical providers must not be forced to violate their conscience by participating in an abortion. So the goal or the mission of the Conscience and Religious Freedom division is: if we receive a complaint from a medical healthcare provider where that healthcare provider is saying, ‘Look, I am being forced to perform an abortion or assist in an abortion -- or maybe a sterilization or assisted suicide -- that violates my religious beliefs. I work in an entity that receives healthcare funds.’ We would investigate the complaint and, if we find a violation, we will take action… So, one of our cases that we completed involved a nurse who was given the choice of either assisting in an abortion or losing her job. We were able to resolve that case. She unfortunately had to assist in the abortion; she was told that she was gonna be fired. The abortion implicated a 22-week-old pre-born baby. And after she was forced to participate, she hired legal counsel, filed a complaint, and we were able to resolve the complaint to the point that that hospital is now affording the proper accommodations to any other healthcare provider who holds those religious beliefs.” [Family Life News, 7/19/2018]

Perez Was Extremely Vague When Asked How The Division Might Apply To HHS’ Human Services Work; He Also Emphasized That “Primarily…Our Cases [Are] On The Conscience Side.” “We also cover the human services side of the equation. But primarily, where we have seen the greatest increase in our cases is on the conscience side, where one would think that we wouldn’t have that many cases, that this is a principle that people would understand by now. But, unfortunately, we continue to receive cases where medical providers are being presented with that untenable choice. The human services portion talks about, for example, Health and Human Services funds other types of services throughout that country which could potentially implicate entities that provide those services and may want to provide those services in accordance to their religious beliefs, so that’s the human services side of the equation.” [Family Life News, 7/19/2018]

Perez Spoke About The Conscience And Religious Freedom Division At An Event Held By An Anti-Abortion, Anti-Feminist Organization

In His Capacity As The Head Of The Conscience And Religious Freedom Division, Perez Spoke About “The Trump Administration's Defense Of Religious Liberty” At An Event Hosted By The Anti-Abortion, Anti-Feminist Eagle Forum

Perez Spoke At The Phyllis Schlafly Collegians’ Annual DC Summit… [Summit program, accessed 11/7/2018]

  • The Summit Was Hosted By The Eagle Forum, An Anti-Abortion Organization Founded By Anti-Abortion, Anti-Feminist Activist Phyllis Schlafly.  “We support constitutional amendments and federal and state legislation to protect the institution of marriage and the equally important roles of father and mother. We honor the fulltime homemaker and her rights in joint income tax returns. We oppose the feminist goals of stereotyping men as a constant danger to women, while at the same time pushing women into military combat against foreign enemies. Lead by our founder Phyllis Schlafly, we successfully led the ten-year battle to defeat the misnamed Equal Rights Amendment with its hidden agenda of tax-funded abortions and same-sex marriages.” [Phyllis Schlafly Eagles, accessed 11/7/2018]

…An Event That Featured A Session Called “The Pro-Life Plank is Good for the Republican Platform…” [Summit program, accessed 11/7/2018]

…Perez Spoke About “The Efforts Of Donald Trump And His Administration To Protect Religious Liberty.” [Facebook, accessed 11/7/2018]