EPPC Leads Coalition to Request Meeting with Government Health Officials on Anticipated Section 1557 Rulemaking

March 11, 2022

Today, the Ethics and Public Policy Center partnered with Christ Medicus Foundation to lead a coalition of more than a dozen stakeholder organizations to request a meeting with Department of Health and Human Services officials on anticipated rulemaking under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. The new regulations could redefine standards of care by requiring doctors to perform experimental transgender surgeries (including on minors) against their ethical and medical judgment, and by requiring insurance plans to pay for such dangerous interventions.

Earlier this year, HHS announced its intent to propose, by April 2022, modifications to existing regulations under Section 1557, which prohibits sex discrimination in health programs and activities funded by HHS.

Through ongoing litigation over the existing Section 1557 regulations, HHS revealed that it was consulting with select activist groups on amending the regulations to redefine sex in medicine away from its scientific and biologically-based understanding to a subjective and political concept of “gender identity.” The activist groups provided HHS with a memorandum containing their extreme policy prescriptions, including:

  • Redrafting the definition of discrimination “on the basis of sex” under Section 1557 to include: “pregnancy, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery therefrom, childbirth or related medical conditions, reproductive health decisions, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, gender transition, transgender status, sex stereotypes, and sex characteristics (including intersex traits).”
  • Expanding the scope of application of Section 1557.
  • Forcing health care professionals to provide services that violate their conscience or sincerely held religious beliefs by explicitly prohibiting religious, moral, and abortion exemptions.
  • Forcing medical professionals to perform or assist in experimental transgender surgeries and cross-sex hormone treatments on adults and children even where contrary to their medical judgment. 
  • Requiring insurance plans, certain employers, and beneficiaries to pay for experimental transgender surgeries and cross-sex hormone treatments on adults and children. 

A coalition of medical professionals and legal and policy experts have responded to these developments by requesting a meeting with HHS leadership to present science-based counter arguments to the ideologically-driven advice HHS has solicited and received to date on Section 1557. 

The coalition letter explains, “If adopted, these policies would be devastating for people—most especially children—struggling with gender identity issues. It would require dangerous and harmful treatments on physically healthy individuals that in many cases will lead to permanent sterility without off-setting mental health benefits. Under cover of ‘anti-discrimination’ the proposal would upend centuries of scientific understanding of what it means to be a man or a woman with respect to medicine and biology.”

“Activist groups have practically set up shop in the HHS Office for Civil Rights to push experimental transgender ideology into every aspect of health care, including pediatrics. The least OCR can do is listen to doctors, experts, and victims who can demonstrate the harms that come from replacing medical science with this dangerous political ideology,” said EPPC Senior Fellow Roger Severino, director of EPPC’s HHS Accountability Project and former Director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights. “Before we updated Section 1557 regulations under the Trump Administration, we met with a wide variety of stakeholders, including Dr. Rachel Levine. We hope Dr. Levine will pay us the same courtesy and respect.” 

The request was sent to HHS Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services Admiral Rachel Levine, M.D., and Office for Civil Rights Director Lisa Pino.

You can read the meeting request letter here.

Stakeholder organizations signing on to the letter:

  • Alliance Defending Freedom
  • Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine 
  • American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  • American College of Pediatricians
  • Bella Health + Wellness
  • Catholic Benefits Association
  • Catholic Healthcare Leadership Alliance
  • Christ Medicus Foundation
  • Catholic Medical Association
  • The Ethics and Public Policy Center
  • Galen Institute
  • The Heritage Foundation 
  • The National Catholic Bioethics Center

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