Faith Groups Slam HHS for Rolling Back Religious Conscience Protections for Doctors Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra speaks to the press after taking a tour of a vaccination site at Community of Hope, a community heath center, on May 5, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
By Brian Freeman | Tuesday, 11 May 2021 09:45 AM
The Department of Health and Human Services has expanded its definition of sex discrimination to include gender identity and sexual orientation, a move which could force Catholic hospitals and religious doctors to perform sex changes and which has drawn criticism from religious groups, The Washington Free Beacon has reported.
In declaring the new rule, HHS cited the Supreme Court's decision last year in "Bostock v. Clayton County," which protected employees from discrimination on the basis of being gay or transgender.
"The Supreme Court has made clear that people have a right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sex and receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation," HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. "That's why today HHS announced it will act on related reports of discrimination."
Religious liberty groups criticized the Biden administration's new policy, saying it would coerce religious medical professionals to violate their consciences, because the new guidance rolls back Trump administration guidelines that used biology to determine sex discrimination in an effort to protect the conscience rights of medical providers, according to the Free Beacon.
Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, policy adviser for the Catholic Association, said that "Coercing doctors to carry out highly controversial and unproven "treatments' like administering puberty-blocking hormones to children and performing irreversible sex changes — against their best medical judgment and conscience — is the latest effort by the Biden administration to force anyone who dissents from its radical ideology into compliance."
Matt Bowman, senior counsel at the Alliance Defending Freedom, added that the Biden administration is "arbitrarily" redefining sex to push a political agenda.
"This action promotes dangerous procedures for minors, threatens to compel medical professionals to contradict their best medical judgment about what promotes patient health, and to violate their oath to 'do no harm,' and threatens to strip professionals of their ability to continue serving vulnerable populations," Bowman said.
Many Republican-controlled state legislatures have been trying to push back against the intentions of the Democrat adminsitration in order to prevent health care providers from being forced to provide sex-change surgery.
Twenty states are considering legislation to ban gender reassignment surgery for minors, with Arkansas having become the first state last month to enact such a law after its legislature overrode the governor's veto.
But although Biden's moves to deemphasize religious liberty have drawn criticism from religious groups, they have drawn praise from other advocacy groups, the Free Becon reported.
Transgender advocacy groups lauded the Biden administration for protecting "life-saving care."
Chase Strangio, deputy director for the American Civil Liberties Union LGBTQ & HIV Project, explained that, "With health care for transgender youth under attack by state legislatures, this move to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in health care is critical."