On Friday, June 12, the Trump administration finalized a new rule to protect a doctor’s right to object to abortion and “gender reassignment” operations. The rule clarifies that bans on sex-based discrimination do not include gender identity or abortion.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said that its final rule eliminates portions of a 2016 regulation that had inappropriately expanded the definition of sex discrimination. The department said certain language in the 2016 rule “exceeded the scope of the authority delegated by Congress.”
“HHS will enforce Section 1557 by returning to the government’s interpretation of sex discrimination according to the plain meaning of the word ‘sex’ as male or female and as determined by biology,” the announcement said.
Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act forbids federally funded healthcare programs from discrimination on the basis of sex. Under guidelines issued under President Barack Obama in May 2016, “sex” was defined as including “gender identity,” meaning that doctors who refuse to recognize sex-change operations as appropriate medical care could face prosecution for sex discrimination. The rules were interpreted to include protections for abortion.
In May 2019, the Trump administration announced it was considering changing regulations related to section 1557, removing the expansive definition of “sex” and requiring that non-discrimination protections be interpreted in line with First Amendment freedoms.
At the time of the announcement, the US bishops pro-life committee, led by Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, issued a statement “applauding” the proposed changes and saying the bishops were “grateful” the administration was taking the “important step.”
“These modifications follow the legislative intent of the Affordable Care Act to ensure nondiscrimination on the basis of sex in health care,” the statement said.
The above comes from a June 12 story on Catholic News Agency.