WASHINGTON (CNS) — The chairs of four U.S. bishops’ commissions said on July 27 that proposed regulations from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regarding abortion, transgender services and other procedures would limit the ability of the Catholic Church “to carry out our healing ministries” and the ability of others. “endanger” the practice of medicine.”
They called the proposed regulations — a 308-page document released by HHS on July 25 — “a violation of religious freedom and bad medicine.”
“They are forcing health professionals to perform life-changing surgeries to remove perfectly healthy body parts,” the bishops said. “Assurances that HHS will comply with religious freedom laws are of little comfort when HHS is actively fighting court rulings declaring that HHS had violated religious freedom laws the last time they attempted to impose such a mandate. “
They added: “The proposed regulations announce that HHS is also considering forcing health professionals to perform abortions against their will or lose their jobs. We call on HHS to explicitly reject such intentions.”
The American Conference of Catholic Bishops has released the joint statement of Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the committee on pro-life activities; Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, Chairman, Committee on Home Justice and Human Development; Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, Chairman of the Lay, Marriage, Family, and Youth Committee; and Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the Committee on Religious Freedom.
The proposed HHS regulations would apply to the implementation of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, age, disability or gender – including pregnancy, sexual orientation and gender identity – in covered health care prohibits programs or activities.
In 2020, the Trump administration introduced a final rule that repealed the general ban on discrimination based on gender identity and also passed abortion and religious freedom waivers for health care providers. But the courts blocked this rule change.
In 2021, shortly after he was inaugurated, President Joe Biden issued an executive order declaring that his administration would apply the 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County to all government territories, including the ACA.
In a 6-3 ruling, the court ruled that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is necessarily also discrimination “based on sex,” as prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The Biden administration’s so-called “transgender mandate” required doctors and hospitals to perform gender transition procedures on every patient, despite moral or medical objections from the physician or healthcare facility.
Last year, a number of Catholic health care organizations filed a lawsuit against the mandate. A federal court blocked the mandate last August and granted the plaintiffs’ request for a permanent injunction.
The court permanently banned HHS, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and all HHS-related departments, agencies and employees “from interpreting or enforcing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act.”
Also last year, plaintiffs’ attorneys discovered a 74-page legal memorandum attached to a lawsuit from a consortium of 30 sexual rights groups, which revealed that HHS had promised to review its mandates regarding health plan coverage and performance to prevent surgical abortion. , cross-sex hormones, gender transition surgeries, gender-confirming cosmetic surgeries, and voice matching—along with a host of comprehensive services related to fertility treatments, birth control, abortion, and sterilizations.
Once the newly released HHS proposed regulations are published on the federal registry, a public comment period will begin. HHS said this period will be 60 days from publication. As of July 27, the HHS proposal had not yet been published on the website https://www.federalregister.gov.
“Catholics have been called to care for the sick since the earliest days of our faith,” the USCCB committee chairs said. “Today, the various agencies and social services of the Catholic Church together equal the largest non-profit health care provider in the country.”
The Church is doing “this work in fulfillment of the direct command of Jesus Christ and in imitation of His divine ministry here on earth,” they said.
“Catholic ministries of health serve everyone regardless of their race, gender, belief system or any other characteristic,” the bishops continued. “The same excellent care will be provided in a Catholic hospital to all patients, including those who identify as transgender, whether for a broken bone or for cancer, but we cannot do what our faith forbids. We object. against harmful procedures, not to patients.”
The bishops said they will “continue to review these proposed ordinances and provide more thorough commentary in due course.”