Health and Human Services, HUD overturn Obamacare ‘defined’ sex, addressing abortion, transgender and housing issues

The Department of Housing and Human Services finalized a regulation Friday ending Obamacare rules opening up abortion access and broadening sex to mean gender; therefore, transgender rights.

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act prohibits covered health programs or activities from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, and sex. The Obama-era regulation defined sex as “one’s internal sense of gender, which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female.”

Federal civil rights laws prevent discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, and sex, however that may be defined.

HHS is replacing a 2016 rule that wrongly interpreted “sex” to include gender identity and termination of pregnancy.

Under the new policy, hospitals and insurers, on the basis of religious freedom, can refuse to provide services such as abortions and gender-transition procedures.

The ACLU voted to sue to get the rule overturned.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called it “repugnant.”

“That this action was taken on the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting, an act of domestic terror targeting the LGBTQ community, and amid a global pandemic is grotesque,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Roger Severino, head of the Health and Human Services Department unit that enforces civil rights laws, said that HHS “respects the dignity of every human being” and transgender people will continue to be protected under other statutes barring discrimination.

“Word choice in federal legislation is significant and Congress has consistently used the word ‘sex’ in laws like Title VII, Title IX, and the Affordable Care Act to mean a person’s biological sex as male or female,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor.

“The Trump administration is right to restore the rule of law by respecting what Congress meant. Replacing the objective concept of sex with the subjective and fluid notion of gender identity, as some courts and the prior administration have tried to do, has serious consequences for women’s sports and female-only spaces like school locker rooms, showers, and homeless women’s shelters. Confirming the clear meaning of sex as grounded in human biology ensures that women will continue to have equal opportunities in sports, school, and work, and it protects the privacy rights of all Americans.”

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s moved to act in similar clarification.

“There is no need to force shelters to violate their faith or impose a blanket federal policy that forces vulnerable women to share space with men who claim a female identity,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Kate Anderson.

“Our Constitution requires government officials to treat religious Americans and faith-based organizations as favorably as everyone else and HUD’s proposed rule takes a step in that direction. Some of the faith-based organizations we’ve represented in court have faced hostility—and even the threat of closure—by government officials who disagree with their religious beliefs. That’s why we are glad HUD is proposing a rule that at least returns this issue to local control and otherwise lets shelters set their own admissions policies to carry out their mission.”

These rules also ends a regulation requiring entities to send patients and customers documents and “explanation of benefits” forms in multiple languages. “These expensive notices have not generally proven effective at accomplishing their purpose of providing meaningful language access to healthcare,” an HHS statement explained, which it says would save $2.9 billion over 5 years.

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