Catholic World News

Proposed HHS regulation could require insurers to cover abortion, transgender surgery

November 12, 2015

In interpreting and implementing the anti-discrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services has proposed a rule that “establishes that the prohibition on sex discrimination includes discrimination based on gender identity.”

“Individuals may not be subject to discrimination based on gender identity,” the Office for Civil Rights said in a statement. “For example, some insurance policies have historically contained categorical exclusions on coverage of all care related to gender transition. Those categorical exclusions are prohibited under the proposed rule. Individuals must also be treated consistent with their gender identity, including in access to facilities.”

The general counsel of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and representatives of eight other Christian organizations signed a joint letter commenting on the proposed rule. The USCCB said in a statement:

"We agree that the prevention of sex discrimination in health programs and activities is a laudable statutory goal. Everyone should have access to health care and health coverage," said the comments. However, they note, the final regulations need to make clear that they do not demand involvement in abortion, force religious institutions to cover objectionable services, or employ definitions of sex discrimination and other terms that exceed federal law. The comments called for an exemption that would, at minimum, “state that the prohibition on sex discrimination shall not apply to a religious organization if such application would not be consistent with the religious tenets of such organization.”


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