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Trump admin proposes dropping abortion, ‘gender identity’ from HHS definition of sex discrimination

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 24, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed new rules today that would end an Obama-era regulation defining sex discrimination as including “gender identity” and abortion.

This regulation, which is currently tied up in court, would force doctors to commit transgender surgeries and abortions even if they conscientiously object. The proposed new guidelines reject the idea that refusing to abort an unborn baby is somehow a form of sex discrimination.

“When Congress prohibited sex discrimination, it did so according to the plain meaning of the term, and we are making our regulations conform,” said HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR) Director Roger Severino.

“The American people want vigorous protection of civil rights and faithfulness to the text of the laws passed by their representatives,” said Severino. “The proposed rule would accomplish both goals.”

In a press call this morning, Severino emphasized that HHS will continue to provide “robust protections” for disabled and non-English speakers to access healthcare, as well as for all other “protected classes” provided for according to law, determined by race, color, national origin, age, and sex. But the definition under scrutiny was that of sex.

“The 2016 [Obama] Rule redefined discrimination on the basis of sex to include ‘termination of pregnancy’ and ‘gender identity,’” Severino said. “And it defined ‘gender identity’ as one’s internal sense of being ‘male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female.’”

“That provision was enjoined by the federal court,” he continued.

“The Department of Justice, on behalf of HHS, as part of the litigation, informed the court that our position is that discrimination on the basis of sex does not include gender identity and termination of pregnancy, and this position is consistent with the position taken by the Solicitor General at the Supreme Court.”

Severino cited the case of Harris Funeral Home, which deals with the question of whether or not provisions against discrimination on the basis of sex can be applied to “gender identity.” A male employee of the funeral home was fired after informing his employers that he intended to have so-called sex reassignment surgery and come to work dressed in women’s clothing.  

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.

The Department of Justice had said that “sex discrimination” should be understood according to the “plain meaning” of the term, which is biological sex.

Severino said that what HHS is doing is being consistent with law.

“The action we are taking today conforms with the court injunction as well as the position of the Department of Justice but most importantly it conforms with the text of the law itself,” said Severino.  

Section 1557 of Obamacare “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability under any health program or activity that receives Federal financial assistance.”

Soon after the “final rule” protecting transgenderism and abortion was released, a handful of states and private healthcare providers challenged it in court.  

Regarding the “gender identity” provision, their complaint was that “by redefining a single word used in the Affordable Care Act ... HHS has created a massive new liability for thousands of healthcare professionals unless they cast aside their medical judgment and perform controversial and even harmful medical transition procedures.”

“The transgender mandate allowed the government to insert itself into the private, irreversible, and sensitive medical decisions,” said Lori Windham, senior counsel at the law firm Becket. “No wonder two courts ordered the government to change its ways. Now patients can be reassured knowing their doctors are free to follow their best medical judgment as well as the most accepted medical research, including research relied on by HHS medical experts themselves. This new rule follows medical consensus and common sense.”

“The proposed changes indicate that no longer will abortion be advanced in the healthcare law to avoid accusations of ‘discrimination’ on the basis of sex,” Students for Life of America said in a press release. “Pregnancy is not a disease cured by abortion.”

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