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Biden Administration’s Proposed Rules Would Roll Back Religious Liberty Laws in Health Care

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October 14, 2022
Fli Insider | HHS Religious Exemptions

by Maya Noronha • 3 min read

First Liberty recently delivered a compelling 42-page public comment to a proposed rule by the Biden administration, commonly known as the “transgender mandate,” which would rollback extensive civil rights protections for Americans of faith in health care.

In August, the Biden Administration proposed to change an Obamacare rule in ways that substantially burden Americans who have sincerely held and longstanding beliefs on sex, pregnancy and marriage. The change would force millions of religious health care professionals and institutions to participate in abortions, sterilizations and “gender-transition” surgeries—all while allowing exceptions from such procedures for secular reasons. If religious providers and institutions are forced to choose between their faith and their healthcare work, many providers and institutions will be forced to leave the medical field, which will reduce Americans’ access to healthcare.

Within 60 days, four members of First Liberty’s legal team—Justin Butterfield, Maya Noronha, Christine Pratt and Kayla Toney—two of whom worked on adding the religious liberty protections to the Trump administration’s Section 1557 Regulation, and three of whom worked in the office that enforces the Section 1557 Regulation, strictly scrutinized the agency’s proposed regulation, warning them of the extensive legal problems with their proposal.

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First Liberty detailed hundreds of legal protections for religious liberty and conscience under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, federal and state law that the Biden Administration failed to address. First Liberty’s legal team listed numerous court cases in conflict with the Biden administration’s proposal, including the Coach Kennedy case that First Liberty won at the U.S. Supreme Court this year. Many of these healthcare religious liberty laws are in First Liberty’s Religious Liberty Protection Kit for Healthcare Professionals. The public comment also explained how the proposal would undo religious liberty protections in all 50 states, which were published this year in the Religious Liberty in the States index, which was produced by First Liberty’s Center for Religion, Culture and Democracy.

The comment states that Americans of diverse faiths whom First Liberty represents—including Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims and Falun Gong—are burdened by this proposal. It details numerous religious texts and creeds that assert that sex is an objective, binary category that cannot be changed by self-perception or medical intervention. It also highlights the positive benefits that religious providers and spirituality serve in advancing health and wellbeing.

If the Biden Administration fails to address the significant legal issues raised in FLI’s comment, the agency can be sued in federal court.

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