Comments Regarding Proposed Rulemaking on Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act
Published on September 26th, 2022
Re: Department of Health and Human Services
Docket ID: HHS-OS-2022-0012
Non-Discrimination in Health Programs and Activities
September 26, 2022
The New York State Catholic Conference submits this comment on behalf of the Respect Life Directors of the Catholic dioceses of New York State. We work and advocate for the fundamental human right to life of all people, regardless of their age or condition, and for religious liberty for health care providers. This is based on our faith’s teaching about the inherent dignity of every human person.
We strongly oppose the proposed rule. This rule would endanger the lives and health of vulnerable persons and force health institutions and professionals to violate their religious beliefs.
Under this rule, it would be considered discrimination for a health care worker or Catholic hospital to object to cooperating in harmful gender transition procedures based on their religious belief or their professional judgment. The proposed rule also fails to protect the right of health care workers and providers not to perform or participate in abortions.
It gravely concerns us that HHS is seeking to compel cooperation with inherently harmful procedures. Abortion unjustly terminates the life of a vulnerable and innocent human being. Gender transition procedures involve the unjustifiable mutilation of healthy sexual organs or the use of medicine to interfere with the normal functioning of the reproductive and endocrine systems. These procedures are fundamental violations of human dignity and are morally objectionable.
The rule’s failure to respect the basic right to religious liberty is also deplorable. It goes against the long tradition in American law to guarantee the freedom of conscience from legal coercion. This is particularly disturbing because HHS has repeatedly sought to suppress this right in litigation over abortion and gender transition.
We strongly urge HHS to withdraw this proposed rule, and instead protect vulnerable persons from harmful and morally objectionable procedures.