WASHINGTON – On Monday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued proposed revisions to its regulations implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which would force health care workers to perform gender transition procedures, require health insurance issuers to cover them, and entertain a mandate to perform elective abortions. Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, issued the following statement in response:
“Catholics have been called to care for the sick since the earliest days of our faith. Today, the various agencies and social service ministries of the Catholic Church taken together are equivalent to the largest nonprofit health care provider in the country. We do this work in fulfillment of the direct command of Jesus Christ and in imitation of his divine ministry here on Earth.
“Catholic health care ministries serve everyone, no matter their race, sex, belief system, or any other characteristic. The same excellent care will be provided in a Catholic hospital to all patients, including patients who identify as transgender, whether it be for a broken bone or for cancer, but we cannot do what our faith forbids. We object to harmful procedures, not to patients.
“Sadly, Monday’s proposed regulations threaten our ability to carry out our healing ministries, and others’ to practice medicine. They mandate health care workers to perform life-altering surgeries to remove perfectly healthy body parts. Assurances that HHS will honor religious freedom laws offer little comfort when HHS is actively fighting court rulings that declared HHS violated religious freedom laws the last time they tried to impose such a mandate. This is a violation of religious freedom and bad medicine.
“The proposed regulations announce that HHS is also considering whether to force health care workers to perform abortions against their will or lose their jobs. We call on HHS to explicitly disavow any such intent.
“We will continue to review these proposed regulations and will file more thorough comments at the appropriate time.”
Further information about the USCCB's response to a series of harmful regulations from the current Administration impacting religious charities and individuals can be found at www.usccb.org/do-no-harm.
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