Search form

Group 4 Created with Sketch.
Back to HHS Watch

Maya Noronha

Special Advisor, Office for Civil Rights

Maya Noronha is a lawyer and anti-abortion and anti-birth control advocate. She received undergraduate and law degrees from Georgetown University, where she was active in campus anti-abortion groups. She was previously employed as the deputy director of the Republican Lawyers Association, a lobbyist at the Federation for American Immigration Reform and a lawyer at Baker & Hostetler LLP. She has also worked anti-abortion organizations, including the Heritage Foundation and the American Center for Law and Justice, as well as for anti-abortion Rep. Steve Stockman. She is a member of the Federalist Society and the John Carroll Society of the Archdiocese of Washington.

HOW THEIR ROLE AFFECTS ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Departmenf of Health and Human Services (HHS) is charged with enforcing anti-discrimination laws, health privacy laws and conscience laws. The Washington Post reported that under the Trump administration, the Office for Civil Rights “has been greatly strengthening and expanding protections for healthcare 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.”

In the past, Noronha has argued for prioritizing the preferences of healthcare providers who have religious or conscience-based objections to certain services over the needs of patients. As a special advisor at the OCR, Noronha is in a position to make her narrow beliefs policy.

PREVIOUS EMPLOYMENT OF NOTE

Legal fellow for Representative Steve Stockman, whose campaign once released a bumper sticker reading, “If babies had guns they wouldn’t be aborted.” Noronha’s work for Stockman included “coordinating [a] Congressional staff briefing with Pro-Life Caucus regarding proposals to promote adoption and fatherhood,” 2013

Law clerk at the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative Christian legal advocacy organization, where she “compiled [a] multi-state survey of challenges to conscience rights,” 2010

Research assistant to law professor Caroline B. Newcombe, for whom she “researched comments submitted in response to Department of Health and  Human Services draft conscience regulation,” 2010

TIES TO OTHER ANTI-CHOICE EXTREMISTS

The Heritage Foundation:

The Heritage Foundation is a right-wing think tank. Noronha worked as a legal intern there from February 2011 to May 2011. She tweeted a photo of herself with former chairman of the Heritage’s legal center, Edwin Meese III, in May 2017. Heritage, where Noronha’s boss, OCR Director Roger Severino, once lead the religious freedom division, has lauded the Trump administration’s conscience protection rules.

The American Center for Law and Justice:

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), where Noronha worked as a law clerk in 2010, was founded by far-right televangelist Pat Robertson. Its chief counsel is Jay Sekulow, a personal attorney to Donald Trump. The ACLJ frequently takes on religious liberty, anti-abortion and anti-LGBT cases. It recently released a deceptive anti-Planned Parenthood propaganda film, Abortion, Inc.

Women Speak For Themselves:  

Noronha is a member of the anti-abortion and anti-birth control group  Women Speak For Themselves, which promotes the belief that “women are disadvantaged respecting dating and marriage, especially because of contraception and abortion,” was created in opposition to Obama’s requirement that employers cover birth control in health insurance plans. It encourages members to demonstrate and create “high-quality content” (social media posts, letters to the editor, opinion pieces) opposing birth control and the birth control requirement.

Georgetown University Anti-Abortion Faculty:

Noronha created Facebook fan pages for two anti-abortion professors. In the class notes section of the Georgetown alumni newsletter, Noronha announced that she had “created facebook ‘Fan Club’ pages containing quotables of amazing Catholic Studies minor professors who instructed her, such as her favorite Theology Professor Fr. Thomas M. King, SJ and her favorite Government Professor Fr. James V. Schall, SJ ('retired').” [Georgetown University Alumni, accessed 10/15/18]

King, who co-founded University Faculty for Life, wrote “the reality of abortion in America is widely concealed by lies and half truths.” The Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life’s annual prize for “outstanding collegiate pro-life groups” is named for him.

Schall has referred to abortion clinics as “slaughter houses” and complained that, “The most significant change [to America in the past century] is the replacement of a ‘common good’ by multiculturalism, itself based on a relativism that is, in effect, a denial of any order in the universe or in the human being. The country (and not just the United States), has followed a logical decline in the order of morality that step by step passed from divorce, contraception, abortion, in vitro conceptions, gay life and marriages, to the deconstruction of any limit to human disorder.”

HIGHLIGHTS

As A Georgetown Student, Maya Noronha Wrote An Article Arguing That Abstinence-Only Education, As Opposed To Condom Use, Was The Best Way To Fight AIDS:

“Student Global AIDS Campaign advocates ending abstinence-only AIDS prevention programs and promoting the use and distribution of male and female condoms and other forms of contraception – a proposition not only irresponsible, but dangerous. AIDS prevention groups today are enamored of the mythical panacea of prophylactics, undoubtedly propagated by condom companies far more interested in profit than public welfare. While condoms can break, slip, leak as well as be used inconsistently, abstinence and monogamous relationships ensure a 100 percent effective way to combat the AIDS pandemic. The indiscriminate gratification of sexual impulses has consequences. Instead of focusing on changing risky behavior, AIDS prevention groups have turned to the condom as the only ‘credible’ cure-all...In short, condoms do not offer a complete or desirable solution to the AIDS crisis. Delayed sexual debut, partner reduction and fidelity are the proven methods of reducing HIV transmission. Why should we advocate for condoms, testing and treatment, all of which tacitly condone – if not promote – promiscuous behavior? We must make sure that we are truly seeking a long-term solution to the global AIDS program, not a myopic program endorsed by condom producers and biased groups like the oft-cited Alan Guttmacher Institute.” [The Hoya, 3/1/05]

Noronha Published A Petition That Claimed Planned Parenthood President’s Visit To Georgetown Would Violate A Policy Prohibiting “Expression That ‘Endangers Or Imminently Threatens To Endanger The Safety Of Any Member Of The Community.’”

“Maya M. Noronha (COL ’05, LAW ’10) published a petition March 7 titled ‘No Planned Parenthood at Georgetown’ demanding that the university prevent Richards’ visit. The petition states that hosting the president of Planned Parenthood would violate Georgetown’s free speech and expression policy that bans dangerous and threatening speech. The petition has been cosigned by over 70 members of the Georgetown community as of press time. ‘First, the policy prohibits expression that ‘endangers or imminently threatens to endanger the safety of any member of the community.’ Cecile Richards advocates for the killing of innocent human life by abortion,’ the petition states. ‘Hosting an abortion advocate on campus is offensive and hurtful to those healing from a past abortion.’ Noronha asserted Richards’ visit stands contrary to Georgetown’s Jesuit and Catholic identity. ‘A university group giving Cecile Richards alone the platform to advocate for abortion is contrary to Georgetown’s Catholic and Jesuit identity,’ Noronha wrote in an email to The Hoya.” [The Hoya, 3/18/2016]

THE WHOLE STORY

Maya Noronha Wrote A Law Review Article Advocating For Religious And Moral Conscience Protections In Healthcare; She Works On “The Same Regulation” In Her Current Role At HHS

As A Law Student, Maya Noronha Wrote An Article Advocating For A Bush Administration Regulation “Protecting Healthcare Providers Who Object” To Abortion And Other Medical Treatments “On The Basis Of ‘Religious Beliefs Or Moral Convictions’”…

Noronha Wrote That Anyone Who Administers Health Care, Including Nurses and Pharmacists, Should Be Able to Exercise Their Conscience And Discriminate Against Patients. “One argument [against the regulation] is that the failure of the regulation to provide definitions leaves open the possibility that it can be broadly interpreted to encompass contraception, fertility treatments, and end-of-life care. Some question the appropriateness of applying conscience rights to pharmacists, and those not involved in the decision making process of the patient, those giving indirect treatment, and its possible application even to janitors. However, pharmacists, psychologists, occupational therapists, technicians, social workers, and nurses may have conscientious objections just as a medical doctor would.  Healthcare providers-whether physicians, pharmacists or nurses-should not be treated as mere functionaries blindly expected to defer to whatever a patient wants, but should be viewed in their full professional capacity. Those who enter the healthcare profession deserve protection as well; justifiably, the regulation prevents discrimination by encompassing training programs, students and applicants for training or study as well as employees, volunteers, trainees, and contractors. The regulation also appropriately extends ‘across the span of a professional’s education and career;’ a healthcare provider might convert or change their views after experience, and those developments should also be protected.” [The Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, “Removing Conscience from Medicine,” 2010]

Noronha Thinks There Should Be “Flexibility” In How Health Care Providers Can Discriminate, To Accommodate For Any New Technologies.  “A second challenge to the regulation is that patients need an unwavering standard of care that does not vary on the ‘randomness of individual morality.’ The regulation does not define ‘moral conviction’ or ‘religious belief’ but some have argued that a wide range of reasons could constitute the basis for objection. However, it is appropriate to offer some flexibility in what objections might be raised, considering new medical technologies may present new ethical concerns and objections.” [“Removing Conscience from Medicine,” The Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, 2010]

Noronha Argued That That Conscience Laws Do Not “Infringe Upon A Woman’s Right To Choose Abortion.” “First, some opponents have argued that the regulation infringes upon a woman’s right to choose abortion and thereby endangers women’s health. However, the case law on abortion rights ‘does not create or identify a corresponding duty on the part of any provider to be involved in the procedure in any way.’ Abortion rights advocates have been trying to transform the negative liberty (the right to be free from government interference in one’s right to an abortion) into positive liberty (that government needs to provide the right to an abortion).” [“Removing Conscience from Medicine,” The Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, 2010]

Noronha Argued That It Is “Unjust For A Patient’s Desire For Convenience To Coerce A Healthcare Provider.” ”The most common challenge to conscience laws is the assertion of patient autonomy. Some characterize conscience laws as actually protecting autonomy-the autonomy of healthcare providers. Instead of viewing this issue as a clash of autonomies, a more appropriate principle is justice, rendering to each his due. Justice would not mean that a healthcare provider must “sacrifice his personal moral integrity even for what the patient may believe to be a morally good purpose. Similarly, it would be unjust for a patient’s desire for convenience to coerce a healthcare provider. The request for access through each healthcare provider-not just access to healthcare in general-is the demand that is unjust.” [“Removing Conscience from Medicine,” The Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, 2010]

Noronha Argued That Healthcare Providers Who Refuse Services On Conscience Grounds Are Not Obligated To Refer Patients To Another Provider Because “Referrals Constitute Complicity.” “Because referring doctors do not share in the fees or liability of the treatment offered by the new doctor, many medical, nursing and pharmacy societies take the position that healthcare providers must counsel and refer patients, even when they object to a treatment or procedure the patient seeks. The American Medical Association has declared that ‘physicians’ conscientious objection[s] must be counter-balanced with obligations that will respect patients’ autonomy and ability to access medical services,’ and part of that obligation is the duty to refer patients to other physicians or health care facilities. However, referrals constitute complicity, because referral is assisting in the performance of the objectionable treatment. A patient co-opts a healthcare provider into being a ‘de facto moral accomplice.’ A referral ‘link[s] the provider to the final outcome in the chain of causation.’ Moreover, almost one third of physicians believe that they should not have the duty to refer when they hold a conscientious objection.” [“Removing Conscience from Medicine,” The Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, 2010]

…Unsurprisingly, In Her Current Role At HHS, Noronha Is Working On “The Same Regulation” Discussed In Her Article

During A Visit With Catholic University Of America Law Students, Noronha Said That She Is “Currently Proposing Reforms To The Same Regulation” Discussed In Her Article.
“Noronha also discussed how she got her start in law school by publishing a law journal note about a health care conscience regulation. ‘I highly recommend joining a law journal while in law school…this was a good opportunity to get involved in religious liberty law while still in school,’ Noronha, who is currently proposing reforms to the same regulation, said.” [The Catholic University Of America, accessed 10/16/2018]

  • Noronha Called Herself “An Example That You Can Express Your Beliefs In The Workplace, And You Can Let Your Faith Guide The Direction Of Your Work.” “‘The  Faith and Action series addresses the myth that you have to check your faith when you enter the legal profession. I want to show you, through my career path, that this does not have to be the case,’ Noronha said…Noronha told students that they have the opportunity to express their religious beliefs throughout their careers. ‘I encourage you to get excited about religious liberty and conscious law. I am an example that you can express your beliefs in the workplace, and you can let your faith guide the direction of your work,’ Noronha said.” [The Catholic University Of America, accessed 10/16/2018]

 

Maya Noronha Protested Obamacare’s Requirement That Employers Offer Employees Health Insurance That Covers Birth Control

Maya Noronha Attacked Georgetown Law Student Sandra Fluke’s Testimony About The Need For The Birth Control Mandate At Religiously-Affiliated Institutions

In A Letter To The Georgetown Student Newspaper, Noronha Wrote That The School “Should Not Be Coerced To Provide Contraception To All Insured.” “Your coverage of Sandra Fluke’s testimony in the article ‘Law Student Mired in Birth Control Debate’ (The Hoya, A1, March 2, 2012) omits a critical detail: Georgetown Law student insurance covers prescriptions to treat polycystic ovarian syndrome.  The written testimony of Sandra Fluke actually admits this in the anecdotal story of a friend in need of birth control for non-pregnancy preventative measures:  ‘Her prescription is technically covered by Georgetown’s insurance because it’s not intended to prevent pregnancy.’ A prescription for estrogen should not be characterized contraceptive when used for the care of reproductive disorders. The medication is being used to prevent cysts, not pregnancy. Sandra Fluke points out a problem in the university’s healthcare policy but advocates for a radical remedy. Georgetown should not be coerced to provide contraception to all insured, especially when the university’s Catholic identity involves upholding Church teachings on sexual ethics. The appropriate solution is to advocate that Georgetown should improve its insurance claims evaluation process so that prescribers can clearly indicate when patients seek to treat reproductive disorders.” [The Hoya, 3/4/2012]

In A Post Called “Sandra Fluke Doesn’t Speak For All Georgetown Law Students,” Noronha Warned Of “The Pain Of Abortion” And That “Contraception Doesn’t Work Every Time”; She Also Highlighted Her Work At Crisis Pregnancy Centers. “I started asking about the needs of mothers when I was a student at Georgetown.  What did I hear? I heard that students wanted to be able to keep their babies and finish college. They needed support. One of my Georgetown Law classmates was a woman who shared with me the pain of a past abortion. She needed healing. A college student told me she got pregnant even though she used a contraceptive.  She needed to tell others that contraception doesn’t work every time… At Georgetown University Law Center, the Advocates for Life actually ran out of space in a donation bin benefiting a pregnancy center, because of the overwhelming outpouring of support – in the form of strollers, diapers, baby clothes, and other items.  My work in social justice for mothers also went off campus to two crisis pregnancy centers– the Northwest Center and the Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center.” [Women Speak For Themselves, 5/23/2014]

Noronha Spoke At A Rally Protesting The Birth Control Requirement

At A Protest Of The Birth Control Requirement, Noronha Said “I Speak For Religious Freedom.” “In a fiery political protest against the federal mandate requiring religious employers to pay for contraceptives and abortion drugs, hundreds of ‘new feminists’ attended a rally here on Aug. 1 across from the White House…To rousing applause, Maya Noronha, another attorney, shouted, ‘I went to Georgetown Law. But my classmate Sandra Fluke does not speak for me…I can speak for myself. And I speak for religious freedom.’” [National Catholic Register, 8/1/2013]

 

Maya Noronha Said That A Talk By Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards Constituted “Dangerous And Threatening Speech”

Years After She Graduated From Georgetown, Maya Noronha Created A Petition To Stop Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards From Speaking On Campus

The Petition Claimed That Richards’s Visit Would Violate A Policy Prohibiting “Expression That ‘Endangers Or Imminently Threatens To Endanger The Safety Of Any Member Of The Community.’” “Maya M. Noronha (COL ’05, LAW ’10) published a petition March 7 titled ‘No Planned Parenthood at Georgetown’ demanding that the university prevent Richards’ visit. The petition states that hosting the president of Planned Parenthood would violate Georgetown’s free speech and expression policy that bans dangerous and threatening speech. The petition has been cosigned by over 70 members of the Georgetown community as of press time. ‘First, the policy prohibits expression that ‘endangers or imminently threatens to endanger the safety of any member of the community.’ Cecile Richards advocates for the killing of innocent human life by abortion,’ the petition states. ‘Hosting an abortion advocate on campus is offensive and hurtful to those healing from a past abortion.’ Noronha asserted Richards’ visit stands contrary to Georgetown’s Jesuit and Catholic identity. ‘A university group giving Cecile Richards alone the platform to advocate for abortion is contrary to Georgetown’s Catholic and Jesuit identity,’ Noronha wrote in an email to The Hoya.” [The Hoya, 3/18/2016]