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Biden Rule Threatens Religious Freedom in Healthcare

The Department of Health and Human Services, led by President Joe Biden, issued a new rule for healthcare providers that legal experts warn could jeopardize the religious freedom of hospitals and doctors. The rule, released under the Affordable Care Act, prohibits healthcare providers receiving federal funding from refusing care based on a patient’s gender identity or sexual orientation. This mandate could lead to religious healthcare providers being compelled to perform procedures conflicting with their faith, such as child sex-change surgeries. Florida has taken legal action against this rule, contending that it violates state law by mandating hormone treatments and gender surgeries for minors.

The rule is a resurrection of a provision from the Obama era that was eliminated during former President Donald Trump’s term. It removes protections for religious groups by necessitating individual approval for religious exemptions, rather than offering broader coverage as in Title IX. Critics argue that this change could pave the way for a broad liberal agenda, extending beyond healthcare. Sarah Parshall Perry of the Heritage Foundation expressed concerns that the expanded definition of “sex” to include gender identity could lead to unwanted consequences for religiously affiliated healthcare providers.

The lack of robust protection for religious providers in the new rule has raised alarms among legal experts. They fear that religious organizations will face challenges defending their beliefs and serving marginalized communities. The complex process of justifying religious objections with the government can create obstacles for medical professionals. Doreen Denny from Concerned Women for America highlighted the potential challenges religious providers may encounter in the legal system and underscored the importance of evidence showcasing the inefficacy of certain procedures.

President Biden’s administration’s approach diverges significantly from previous administrations, particularly concerning the protection of religious liberties. The administration’s focus on differing priorities may result in diminished support for religious exemptions. Concerns persist that the rule could have adverse effects on individuals and organizations with religious beliefs. The Department of Health and Human Services did not provide a response to inquiries on the matter, leaving uncertainties surrounding the future implications of the rule.

Written by Staff Reports

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