85+ Rights Groups Urge University of California to End Discriminatory Restrictions on Medical Providers

The Center for LGBTQ Economic Advancement & Research joined with more than 85 other state and national health equality, reproductive rights, and LGBTQ civil rights groups in sending a letter to the University of California Board of Regents and President Michael Drake urging them to end harmful nonmedical restrictions on abortion, gender-affirming care and more.

University of California Health leadership continues to defend contracts that place UC providers in non-UC facilities that have harmful, non-medical restrictions on care, such as the Catholic Ethical and Religious Directives, which call basic reproductive health services “intrinsically evil.” Under these contracts, providers are required to deny patients abortion care, gender-affirming care, contraception, and other essential care.

The letter calls for the University to adopt a policy that would prohibit any expansion of policy-based restrictions on UC clinicians and students, and to close out or modify existing contracts to eliminate existing restrictions within three years.

The full text of the letter can be found below, and can be downloaded as a PDF here.

June 18, 2021

University of California Board of Regents
Office of the Secretary and Chief of Staff to the Regents
1111 Franklin St., 12th Floor
Oakland, CA 94607
[email protected]

Michael V. Drake
President, University of California
University of California Office of the President
1111 Franklin St., 12th Floor
Oakland, CA 94607
[email protected]

Via e-mail and U.S. mail

RE: UC policy relating to policy-based restrictions on health care

To the Regents and President of the University of California:

As organizations that work to ensure equal treatment for LGBTQ+ people and access to comprehensive reproductive health care throughout the nation and in California, we write to express our deep concern that UC Health continues to defend, and seeks to perpetuate and expand, contracts that tie the hands of University of California clinicians and students, preventing them from providing fundamental health care to their patients. These contracts place UC clinicians and students in facilities where they are subject to policy-based restrictions like the Ethical and Religious Directives for Health Care Services, which prohibit basic reproductive health care—characterizing it as “intrinsically evil”—and directly exclude LGBTQ+ patients.

Reproductive and LGBTQ-inclusive care is essential healthcare, and UC’s attempts to characterize the care that is denied under its restrictive contracts as “elective” use the same dangerous framing being weaponized across the country by those seeking to erect access barriers and impose outright bans on this care.

The University of California has long positioned itself as a strong defender of evidence-based, inclusive, and bias-free health care. Now more than ever, UC needs to hew to these values as the national landscape becomes increasingly dire. This year has seen an unprecedented number of bills sweeping state legislatures that would curtail the rights of LGBTQ+ people, particularly trans and non-binary youth. Twenty-one anti-LGBTQ+ bills were signed into law, including a ban on gender-affirming care for minors in Arkansas. Similarly, access to reproductive health care, particularly abortion care, is increasingly imperiled, with over 300 bills introduced, advanced, or passed to ban or restrict abortion in 2021 alone, and with the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to hear a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.

In this context, the University of California’s decision as to whether it will continue to participate in denials of care will be closely watched and have strong reverberations both inside California and nationally. We strongly believe that, as a public entity with an obligation to provide care that is evidence-based, free of discrimination, and not restricted by religious doctrine, UC must draw a firm line. We urge you to adopt a policy that would empower UC Health providers and immediately prohibit any expansion of policy-based restrictions on UC clinicians and students.

We further urge that, within three years, you close out or modify existing contracts to eliminate the existing restrictions on UC-provided care.


ACCE Action
ACLU California Action
ACLU of Northern California
ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties
ACLU of Southern California
American Atheists
American Civil Liberties Union
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – CA
Atheists United
Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom
Black Women for Wellness
CA Nurse-Midwives Association
California Latinas for Reproductive Justice
California LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network
California National Organization for Women
California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN)
California Women’s Law Center
Catholics for Choice
Center for LGBTQ Economic Advancement & Research (CLEAR)
Child Care Law Center
Citizens For Choice
Consumer Attorneys of California
Contra Costa Atheists and Freethinkers
Courage California
Drug Policy Alliance
Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
Equal Rights Advocates
Equality California
Family Equality
GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality
Guttmacher Institute
Health Access California
Hollywood NOW
Human Rights Campaign
Humanist Society of Santa Barbara
If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice
In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda
Indivisible CA: StateStrong
Indivisible SF
Jewish Center for Justice
Lambda Legal
Los Angeles LGBT Center
Lutheran Office of Public Policy California
Medical Students for Choice
Modern Military Association of America
NARAL Pro-Choice America
NARAL Pro-Choice California
National Abortion Federation
National Birth Equity Collaborative
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Center for Youth Law
National Coalition for LGBTQ Health
National Council of Jewish Women
National Council of Jewish Women, Greater Long Beach & West Orange County Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Los Angeles
National Equality Action Team (NEAT)
National Health Law Program
National Women’s Law Center
Orange County Equality Coalition
Our Family Coalition
Pacific Pride Foundation
PFLAG National
Physicians for Reproductive Health
Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California
Power to Decide
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice California
ROC California
Sacramento LGBT Community Center
SEIU California
SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change
Silver State Equality-Nevada
TEACH – Training in Early Abortion for Comprehensive Healthcare
UAW Local 2865
UAW Local 5810
UC Coalition on Reproductive Justice
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Western States Council
URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity
Voices for Progress
Western Center on Law & Poverty
Women For: Orange County
Women’s Foundation of California
Working Partnerships USA