HHS can't force Catholic providers to offer transgender care, court rules 

The federal government cannot compel Catholic healthcare providers to perform gender-affirming surgeries under an HHS regulation that bans sex discrimination in healthcare, a U.S. appeals court ruled Dec. 9. 

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act prohibits healthcare providers who receive federal funding from discriminating against patients based on their sex. HHS issued a final rule in 2016 that interpreted this regulation to extend to gender identity.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court's decision that requiring clinicians with religious objections to perform gender-affirming surgeries under the rule would violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, according to Bloomberg Law.

The plaintiffs, which include Valley City, N.D.-based SMP Health and the Catholic Medical Association, are entitled "to permanent injunctive relief from the provision or coverage of gender-transition procedures," the judges wrote in their decision. 


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