By April, the Biden Administration will release new rules that will give teeth to many of its social policies. Among them is one anticipated HHS rule, which is intended to serve the needs and rights of vulnerable groups but might do so at the expense of the protections of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and Supreme Court decisions that upheld the free exercise of religion.
If this HHS rule is issued as it appears to be shaping up, it would gut religious liberty protection laws, requiring Catholic hospitals that receive federal funds to perform abortions, and physicians to perform gender-transition surgeries even if those doctors have objections to those procedures.
We can see the outlines of this policy thanks to a leaked memo reported recently from The National Catholic Register. That publication obtained a memo from a Who’s Who of social activist groups acting as a leadership committee advising HHS. That advisory group recommends that HHS expand what discrimination on “the basis of sex” means under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
With this seemingly small tweak, the memo advises HHS to flatly define denial of “termination of pregnancy” as discrimination, with a host of other activities that many religious organizations simply could not pay for or perform as a matter of conscience. If followed, HHS would require Catholic hospitals – which provide care for one in six U.S. patients – to choose between violating their core beliefs or being sanctioned by the government.
The Catholic Benefits Association told The Register that if HHS follows the activist group’s road map, “all employers of any size with health plans, insurers, self-funded plans, federal funding recipients and their subcontractors, Medicare and Medicaid providers and Catholic hospitals and health-care providers would be affected.”
“There’s no place to hide from this,” the CEO of the Catholic Benefits Association told The Register. Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, added:
“When you attack the very idea of religious freedom, as contrary to the First Amendment, you’re really putting everybody’s freedom at risk. Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, all these fundamental freedoms really travel together.”
Protect The 1st will keep an eye on how this rule develops. Surely, cooler heads in the White House will realize that trying to require Catholic hospitals in the nation to perform abortions is overreaching, to say the least.