HHS Finalizes Rule to Protect Religious Liberty of Doctors

Last Friday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finalized a rule under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that protects a doctor's right to object to abortion and gender reassignment surgeries. Section 1557 of the ACA prohibits covered health programs or activities from discriminating on any grounds covered by federal civil rights statutes, including on the basis of sex. In 2016, the Obama administration issued a rule that defined sex discrimination to include both abortion and gender identity. Stating that the 2016 rule exceeded the scope of Section 1557 as passed by Congress, HHS under the Trump administration announced that it would eliminate the provisions that included abortion and gender reassignment under the definition of "sex". 

Acribishop Joseph F. Naumann, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop David A. Konderla, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage issued a joint statement applauding the final regulations, stating that the regulations "will help restore the rights of health care providers - as well as insurers and employers - who decline to perform or cover abortions or 'gender transition' procedures due to ethical or professional objections." The bishops' full statement can be found on the USCCB website.

June 23, 2020 - 7:14am

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