SCOTUS Decision Comes on Heels of Trump Decision Protecting Conscience Rights

This past Friday, June 12th the Trump Administration finalized a rule on Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. Section 1557 prevents covered health programs from discrimination based on current civil rights statutes, like that in Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Specifically, Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in some federally funded programs and was interpreted by the Obama Administration to include “termination of pregnancy and gender identity, which it defined as “one’s internal sense of gender, which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female.”

In December of 2016, a federal court ruled that this expansion of civil rights law contradicted current civil rights laws. As HHS said in the announcement:

“On October 15, 2019, the first federal court issued a final judgment, and vacated and remanded these provisions as unlawful; this final ruling is binding on HHS.  HHS has not been able to enforce these provisions since December 2016, and the provisions have been vacated since October 2019.”

HHS goes on further to explain that the federal agency will use the government’s current “interpretation of sex discrimination according to the plain meaning of the word “sex” as male or female and as determined by biology.”

This rule change is necessary to protect the conscience rights of our country’s healthcare workers. Without it, the Obama-era rule could be interpreted to force medical professionals to perform sex reassignment surgeries or abortions or risk discrimination charges. Further, if an organization was found to have discriminated based on this, they could risk losing federal funds their place of business receives.

While this is a great decision out of Washington, it came right before Monday’s disappointing Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County. Through this ruling, the country’s highest court deemed that title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extends to individuals identifying as gay or transgender. Before the decision was made, the Department of Justice took a “position before the Supreme Court in Bostock v. Clayton County…that the prohibition of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not include gender identity or sexual orientation.”

It seems that it is now up to Congress to legislate religious and conscience protections for individuals seeking protection from performing gender reassignment surgeries in light of Bostock v. Clayton County. Because of this, it is more important than ever to ensure your Senators and Congressman understand the importance of upholding the First Amendment. Eagle Forum will be monitoring the outcome of the SCOTUS decision and its impact across our laws.

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