The US Department of Health and Human Services took steps, in recent days, to correct a troubling injustice initiated by the previous administration.
Three years ago, HHS issued a rule, under the Affordable Care Act, that redefined ‘sex discrimination’ to include ‘gender identity.’ In addition, the rule included ‘pregnancy termination’ — i.e. abortion — in this non-discrimination clause.
The rule was immediately challenged and has been on hold since 2016.
In practice, it would have forced doctors to perform gender transition surgeries on patients even if the doctor objects or sees such surgeries as physically and emotionally harmful. The rule would have violated doctors’ ability to exercise, not only their best medical judgment but also medical scruples inspired by their faith.
What’s more, since the rule redefined discrimination “on the basis of sex” to include the termination of pregnancy, its enforcement would have meant that health care providers and insurance companies could not refuse to provide or pay for abortions.
In forcing so-called “transgender rights” on doctors, schools, and the rest of the country, the Obama administration relied on a narrative that gender identity is sort of baked in and yet not necessarily the same as someone’s biological sex. Consequently, we’ve seen all sorts of dangerous and conscience-violating policies and proposals, including this one.
Pediatrician Michelle Cretella, who heads up the American College of Pediatricians, expressed relief regarding this return to science-based practice. She said, when someone presents as transgender, “it would be complete malpractice to treat them as the opposite sex.” Biological sex, she points out, affects “how diseases manifest, how we diagnose and even treat in some cases.”
Office of Civil Rights Director Roger Severino is responsible for implementing this reform. He explains, “When Congress prohibited ‘sex discrimination,’ it did so according to the plain meaning of the term, and we are making our regulations conform.”
This reform is a return to science, conscience and common sense.