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Protect Religious Freedoms

The Church’s ministries of healing, education, and social services bear witness to Jesus Christ and build up the common good. Church institutions are not mere providers of social services. They are expressions of Christian ministry dedicated to human flourishing. We serve all people, without regard to race, sex, religion, or any other status, because God has imbued every person with inherent human dignity. Most Americans understand that mission-driven organizations should be free to operate in accordance with their missions. But a recent rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would prevent Catholic hospitals, clinics, assisted living facilities, and health care workers from carrying out their work. The Government needs to hear your opinion by October 3rd!

Section 1557 is the nondiscrimination provision of the Affordable Care Act. It protects people from discrimination on the basis of their sex in health care. But the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services (HHS) has proposed a rule implementing Section 1557, which would seriously impede Catholic hospitals, clinics, assisted living facilities, and health care workers from carrying out their work.

HHS is interpreting Section 1557 to impose new mandates about gender identity. According to the rule, it would be considered discrimination for a health care worker or Catholic hospital to object outright to performing gender transition procedures— such as the administration of puberty blocking drugs or surgery to remove healthy body parts—regardless of whether that objection is a matter of religious belief or clinical judgment. The proposed rule also suggests that the government may refuse to honor the right of health care workers and providers not to perform or participate in abortions. The proposed HHS Section 1557 rule could function as both an abortion mandate and a gender transition procedure mandate.

Most people understand that when medical professionals determine gender transition procedures—such as the administration of puberty blocking drugs or surgery to remove healthy body parts—to be harmful, they are making clinical judgments, not discriminating against persons. A study commissioned by the USCCB found that 70% of registered voters recognized that objection to the procedure is not discrimination.

Your comments can make a difference! Join the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in encouraging the HHS to clarify that “discrimination on the basis of sex” is not an abortion mandate, and that health care workers and medical facilities must be free to conscientiously object to gender transition procedures.

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