Legal Help

Legal Help

Have I experienced discrimination?

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights:

You may file a complaint under the Federal Health Care Provider Conscience Protection Statutes if you believe you have experienced discrimination because you:

  • Objected to, participated in, or refused to participate in specific medical procedures, including abortion and sterilization, and related training and research activities

  • Were coerced into performing procedures that are against your religious or moral beliefs

  • Refused to provide health care items or services for the purpose of causing, or assisting in causing, the death of an individual, such as by assisted suicide or euthanasia

What Are the Specific Requirements of the Federal Health Care Provider Conscience Protection Laws?

Covered entities may not, if it would be contrary to the individual’s or health care entity’s religious beliefs or moral convictions:

  • require the individual to participate in sterilization or abortion;

  • require the entity to make its facilities available for sterilization or abortion;

  • require the entity to provide personnel to participate in sterilization or abortion;

  • discriminate against any physician or health care personnel in employment or staff privileges because the individual participated in or refused to participate in sterilization or abortion;

  • discriminate against any physician or health care personnel in employment or staff privileges because the individual participated in or refused to participate in any lawful health service or research activity;

  • deny admission to or otherwise discriminate against any training program applicant (including applicants for internships or residencies) because of the applicant’s reluctance or willingness to participate in sterilization or abortion; or

  • discriminate against any individual or institutional health care entity that does not train in the performance of abortions or provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortion.

Covered entities must:

  • deem accredited any postgraduate physician training program that would be accredited, but for the reliance on an accrediting standard that (regardless of whether such standard provides exceptions or exemptions) requires an entity to perform abortions; or provide training for abortions.

Fact Sheet: Your Rights
HHS Office of Civil Rights

What can I do about the discrimination?

Option 1:

Seek counsel

Seek initial counsel,

without obligation,

from a
nonprofit legal organization.

Option 2:

Report to HHS

Report discrimination directly to HHS:

U.S. Department of

Health and Human Services.


Option 1:

Seek legal counsel

If you have experienced discrimination because of your convictions, a wise approach is to refrain from making any statements or taking actions until you obtain legal counsel.

However, even if you have already taken action and even if the discrimination occurred in the past, you may still be able to seek justice through the legal system. 

Each of the legal organizations below has worked with Freedom2Care to defend freedom of faith, conscience and speech. They can help you sort out your best course of action:

Alliance Defending Freedom

The Alliance Defense Fund is a pro-life law firm that defends the sanctity of life and the right to practice life-affirming medicine throughout the United States.  Among its many conscience rights cases, in 2011 ADF successfully required Vanderbilt University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey to stop requiring health personnel to assist in abortions, and also represented the Christian Medical Association in a winning case to uphold a state law protecting the conscience rights of pro-life health professionals.  ADF offers free advice and representation through its hotline:


Becket Fund

Becket Law is a non-profit, public-interest legal and educational institute with a mission to protect the free expression of all faiths. Becket exists to vindicate a simple but frequently neglected principle: that because the religious impulse is natural to human beings, religious expression is natural to human culture. We advance that principle in three arenas-the courts of law, the court of public opinion, and the academy-both in the United States and abroad.

To discuss an existing or potential legal matter, please contact our Legal Assistants via email at  Include your full name, your contact information, a brief summary of your situation, and a specific statement of the assistance you seek.  We prefer email correspondence, but if email is unavailable to you, please call (202) 349-7220.  We respond to intake requests as our schedule allows.  Due to court schedules and other time commitments, it may take us several business weeks to respond to your request. Note that we do not respond directly to plaintiffs in land use matters.  Please have your attorney contact us at

200 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Suite 700
Washington, D.C. 20036
Phone: 202.955.0095
Business Hours: 9am-6pm M-F


Bioethics Defense Fund

Bioethics Defense Fund (BDF) is a public-interest law firm whose mission is to advocate for human dignity in law, science and medicine.  BDF provides legal expertise, policy strategy and professional education on the issues of healthcare rights of conscience, abortion and its impact on women, human cloning/destructive human embryo research, and end of life issues including physician-assisted suicide and healthcare rationing.

Learn more at or contact BDF president and general counsel Nikolas T. Nikas at or at (602) 751-7234. 

Christian Legal Society

Christian Legal Society (CLS) is a nationwide fellowship of Christians committed to acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with their God (Micah 6:8). Founded in 1961, CLS defends the religious liberties of all Americans in the legislatures and the courts and serves those most in need in our society through Christian Legal Aid. By inspiring, encouraging, and equipping Christian lawyers and law students, both individually and in community, to proclaim, love, and serve Jesus Christ through the study and practice of law, the provision of legal assistance to the poor and needy, and the defense of the inalienable rights to life and religious freedom, we are fulfilling the command of Micah 6:8 and ensuring the next generation of Americans has the same opportunities to share their faith in community. If you have questions or comments, please contact us at:
Christian Legal Society
8001 Braddock Road Suite 302
Springfield, Virginia 22151
Phone: 703-642-1070
Fax: 703-642-1075

The Law of Life Project

The Law of Life Project would like to participate in providing legal counsel without charge in response to inquiries from individuals and organizations reporting cases of conscience-related discrimination. For more information, visit FRC Building, Suite 521 • 801 G. Street, N.W. • Washington, D.C. 20001 • 202.587.5652

Life Legal Defense Foundation

Life Legal Defense Foundation is a public interest non-profit law firm that defends the civil rights of pro-life advocates, and is committed to protecting the individual freedoms of health care professionals. LLDF recently presented a training addressing the conscience rights of medical professionals entitled Do No Harm.  Information about the training is available at  At the end of March in San Francisco, California, LLDF will co- sponsor Make Straight the Pathway, a conference addressing current issues in health care, including conscience rights.  Details will be available on LLDF’s website soon.

If you are in need of legal assistance, please do not hesitate to call: 707-224-6675. Life Legal Defense Foundation P.O. Box 2105. Napa, CA 94558.

Please reload


Option 2: Report to HHS

HHS Office of Civil Rights: Here to Serve You

​"If you believe that a covered entity discriminated against you (or someone else) on the basis of conscience or religious freedom, coerced you to violate your conscience or religious beliefs, or burdened your free exercise of religion, you may file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR).
You may file a complaint for yourself, your organization, or for someone else." 


-- US. Dept. HHS Conscience and Religious Freedom Division


Nonprofit legal firms​

​The non-profit, public interest legal foundations below
typically provide counsel without cost to clients.

How to File a

Conscience Complaint


Filing a complaint is a simple, straightforward proposition: You tell your story of what happened--who, what, when, where.

Maybe as a result of conscience or relgious faith issues, you were:

  • fired;

  • pressured to participate in a conscientiously objectionable action or referral;

  • denied privileges;

  • denied admission to an educational or training program;

  • denied tenure;

  • penalized;

  • subjected to any other form of discrimination based on your conscience and religious convictions.


Even if your story occurred decades ago, you can still report it, since investigating conscience discrimination cases is not legally constrained by a lapse of time.

No need for legalese, no complicated forms. You can file a complaint with the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights--online or via mail, fax, or e-mail.

Learn more about how to file a complaint.

More Resources

Conscience Protections




Filing a



HHS Conscience and Religious Freedom Division


U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon

©2020 Freedom2Care and Christian Medical Association – All Rights Reserved

P.O. Box 76088 • Washington, DC • 20013