The Biden administration on Monday proposed a new rule that critics say could force Christian doctors and religious hospitals to perform abortions or gender transition procedures under Obamacare.
The Biden Department of Health and Human Services said the new rule was an implementation of the much-debated Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age and disability.
Under the new Biden rule, Section 1557 is read to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Further, the new rule “makes clear that discrimination on the basis of sex includes discrimination on the basis of pregnancy or related conditions, including ‘pregnancy termination,’” according to an HHS news release.
“This proposed rule ensures that people nationwide can access health care free from discrimination,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Standing with communities in need is critical, particularly given increased attacks on women, trans youth, and health care providers. Health care should be a right not dependent on looks, location, love, language, or the type of care someone needs.”
The move by the Biden administration reverses a policy by the Trump administration, which advanced pro-life policies in health care and interpreted Section 1557 as referencing “male or female and as determined by biology.”
Religious liberty advocates criticized the new Biden rule.
“Doctors should never be forced to perform a controversial and often medically dangerous procedure that goes against their best judgment, their conscience, or their religious beliefs,” said Matt Bowman, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom. “President Biden’s administration is grossly overreaching its authority and, in so doing, putting children’s psychological and physical health in danger. This harmful new rule could force physicians to perform abortions or controversial procedures that seek to alter a person’s biological sex and could force employers to pay for those procedures in their health insurance plans.
“This rule would further roll back protections for children and the unborn and is an extreme violation of doctors’ and employers’ constitutional rights to conduct their work in a manner that is consistent with their religious beliefs and convictions,” Bowman said.
Luke Goodrich, an attorney for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said the Biden Administration is “trying to force doctors to perform gender transitions and abortions.” Goodrich also noted that courts previously sided with religious individuals and groups on the issue.
“Two federal courts ruled that it would violate religious freedom laws to force doctors to perform procedures that violate their consciences and could harm their patients,” Goodrich said. “They have permanently blocked the Administration from doing so.
“We expect those rulings to be upheld,” Goodrich added.
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Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Cunaplus M. Faba
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.