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ANA Rejects Laws and Policies that Allow Health Care Professionals to Discriminate Against LGBTQIA+ Populations

Shannon McClendon, 

SILVER SPRING, MD - The American Nurses Association (ANA) vehemently rejects federal and state laws and policies that would result in discrimination against LGBTQIA+ and gender diverse populations. Granting health care professionals, institutions, and insurers the ability to use conscience-based objections to refuse treatment or deny access to health care coverage results in violent discrimination and violates the human rights and dignity of these communities and the main tenets of nursing care.  

Recent years have seen a dramatic rise in laws attacking gender-affirming care, further entrenching the existing numerous barriers to quality health care for transgender and gender-expansive people.  The Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements clearly rejects discrimination based on a patient’s individual attributes, stating “Conscience-based refusals to participate exclude personal preference, prejudice, bias, convenience, or arbitrariness.” 

“Discrimination does not belong in health care and has no place in nursing practice,” said ANA President Jennifer Mensik Kennedy, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN. “Unfortunately, people are dying from the lack of access to this critical care. The delivery of modern and culturally sensitive care requires that no patient be left without the care that they need, seek, and require.” 

Across nearly all specialties and health care settings, nurses provide compassionate, evidence-based care to all individuals, regardless of their personal circumstances or beliefs. These laws and policies undermine the trust patients place in health care professionals and compromise the ethical standards of the nursing profession. When laws or legal obligations conflict with ethical norms and expectations of nursing practice, nurses are placed in an untenable position of weighing the ethical obligations of the profession against the legal consequences that can incur.  

“It is our duty as nurses to advocate for our patients and remove unnecessary obstacles imposed by personal biases or beliefs,” ANA CEO Loressa Cole, DNP, MBA, RN, FAAN, NEA-BC.  “If a nurse has conflicting personal, moral, or religious convictions, they are still obligated to ensure that their patient has timely and safe alternate care.” 

On March 2, 2023, ANA sent a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra regarding Safeguarding the Rights of Conscience as Protected by Federal Statutes. Over the years, ANA has taken firm positions on Nursing Advocacy for LGBTQ+ Populations and crafted policy that calls for lawmakers to prioritize elimination of disparate health outcomes based on race, ethnicity, LGBTQ+ status, gender, income, and geographical location. 

ANA urges lawmakers to reject these laws and prioritize the protection of patients' rights and access to equitable healthcare. 


 About the American Nurses Association
The American Nurses Association (ANA) is the premier organization representing the interests of the nation's more than 4 million registered nurses. ANA advances the profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting a safe and ethical work environment, bolstering the health and wellness of nurses, and advocating on health care issues that affect nurses and the public. ANA is at the forefront of improving the quality of health care for all. For more information, visit

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