Health programs and activities that receive federal funds are barred from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, and sex. The Obama Administration attempted to redefined “sex” to include termination of pregnancy and gender identity shortly before the previous President left office.
The Obama Administration’s re-interpretation of federal law would have impacted medical professionals who oppose performing abortions and “transition” surgery. A federal court barred the attempt to reinterpret the law, which likely would have violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, among other statutes.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a final rule in June that aligns with the court ruling, restoring “the rule of law by revising certain provisions that go beyond the plain meaning of the law as enacted by Congress.”
Critics characterize the final rule as rolling back transgender protections, and as expected, a coalition of states sued the Trump Administration. In the complaint (PDF) filed last week, the states accused HHS of undermining Obama-era protections and called the rule “arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to law,” citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia. Six of the nine justices ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
President Donald Trump has acted throughout his term in office to protect freedom of religion and conscience in federal programs. HHS created the Conscience and Religious Freedom division in 2018 to protect health care professionals who oppose killing unborn babies, performing “gender reassignment” surgery, participating in “assisted suicide,” or any other objectionable procedures. The U.S. Department of Justice created the Religious Liberty Task Force in 2018 to protect religious individuals and groups whose beliefs conflict with government regulations. Recently, the U.S. Attorney General has issued letters of support for churches that faced discrimination during the COVID-19 crisis.