HHS Denies Conscience Freedom for Physicians

National Review

Matt Bowman

We’ve all read about how President Biden recently ordered his Health and Human Services Department to issue a national eviction-moratorium mandate, even though “the bulk of the constitutional scholarship says that it’s not likely to pass constitutional muster.” And indeed, the Supreme Court has just struck it down.

What can you do when the president brazenly admits that he is trampling on constitutionally protected freedoms?

But the eviction moratorium is not the only mandate from this president that far exceeds his authority. It’s not even the only illegal mandate from President Biden’s HHS.

On August 26, two organizations of medical doctors and an obstetrician/gynecologist filed a lawsuit in federal court over a mandate from President Biden and HHS that will force doctors to perform gender-transition procedures, even on children.

The administration’s excuse for this mandate is Obamacare, but that 1,000-page statute . . . simply prohibits sex discrimination, as Congress understood that term when it enacted civil-rights laws half a century ago.

Yet on January 20, President Biden ordered his federal agencies to go far beyond the law and reinterpret sex discrimination to include “gender identity” discrimination. . . . continue reading

Ruling blocking HHS ‘transgender mandate’ called ‘victory for conscience’

Catholic Review

CNA Staff

WASHINGTON (CNS) — A U.S. District Court judge’s Aug. 9 ruling to block the Biden administration’s mandate that doctors and hospitals perform gender-transition procedures despite their own moral or medical objections is “a victory for common sense, conscience and sound medicine.”

That is the view of Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, based in Washington. He is the lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the case.

“Today’s ruling protects patients, aligns with current medical research, and ensures doctors aren’t forced to violate their religious beliefs and medical judgment,” he said about the ruling in Franciscan Alliance v. Becerra. . . continue reading

‘An assault on those who are pro-life’: Legal group responds to DOJ dropping conscience complaint

The Catholic Telegraph

Matt Hadro

Washington D.C., Aug 5, 2021 / 11:15 am Members of Congress and a conservative legal group this week criticized the Justice Department for dropping its conscience rights lawsuit against a Vermont hospital.

In December 2020, the Justice Department sued the University of Vermont Medical Center after a nurse there was allegedly coerced into helping with an abortion in 2017, against her stated conscientious objection to doing so. The agency alleged a “pattern” at the hospital of other health care workers being discriminated against for refusing to perform abortions out of religious or moral objections.

On July 30, 2021, however, the agency quietly filed a notice of voluntary dismissal in a federal district court in the case of United States of America v. University of Vermont Medical Center.

Long before the initial lawsuit, the nurse at the center of the case had filed a conscience complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in May 2018. The agency’s civil rights office then ruled in August 2019 that the hospital had violated federal conscience laws, and later referred the case to the Justice Department for enforcement.

An HHS spokesperson told CNA in a statement on Thursday that the agency withdrew its initial referral of the case to the Justice Department for enforcement, following “a detailed evaluation of the underlying legal theory” behind the original referral. The agency further requested that the Justice Department dismiss the case, and also withdrew its own notice of violation issued to the hospital.

“It’s plainly political in nature,” said Matthew Clark, senior counsel for digital advocacy at the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), in an interview with CNA on Thursday. The ACLJ had represented the nurse at the center of the case who had alleged she was coerced into helping with an abortion. . . continue reading

The Battle for Conscience Rights Rages On

National Catholic Register

Michael Warsaw

In February 2012, EWTN filed the first of its legal challenges against the Obama administration’s so-called “HHS mandate,” which would have forced organizations like EWTN and the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide contraception, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization procedures as part of our employer-sponsored health-care plans. For EWTN, that legal battle went on for nearly seven years — and for the Little Sisters, even longer. At the heart of that fight was whether or not the government could force faith-based organizations to act contrary to their deeply held religious values and in violation of their conscience.

More than nine years later, the issue of conscience rights is again taking center stage in our national discussions as the Biden administration continues to ramp up its promotion of tax-funded abortion and “gender-transition” medical treatments.

Earlier in March, the Senate confirmed Xavier Becerra, a Catholic who dissents openly from the Church’s foundational moral teachings regarding the sanctity of human life and sexuality, as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. As attorney general of California, Becerra infamously filed suit to take away the religious exemptions protecting the Little Sisters of the Poor from the provisions of the HHS mandate. 

The Senate also confirmed Dr. Rachel Levine, a biological man who identifies as a transgender woman, as assistant secretary of the HHS. 

With these two officials at the helm, the HHS is certain to rapidly accelerate the Biden administration’s radical agenda of tax-funded abortion and mandatory gender-reassignment treatments, including for children and teens. . . continue reading

Christian Medical Association Physicians Gain Support from Congress and States in Court Fight Against Discriminatory Firing

States and Members of Congress file brief supporting conscience rule protections

News Release

For immediate release

Christian Medical and Dental Associations (USA)

Washington, DC—May 26, 2020 – Christian Medical Association physicians (CMA*, www.cmda.org) received support from states, Members of Congress, minority groups, medical affiliate organizations, and legal experts who recently filed legal briefs in a case regarding a federal conscience protection rule for health professionals.

In New York v. HHS, CMA and Dr. Regina Frost are defending against attempts by states that want to discriminate against doctors and nurses who refuse to violate their consciences and medical judgment by performing procedures such as abortions or physician-assisted suicide. This case is now in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

CMA CEO Dr. Mike Chupp noted, “As a general surgeon who did patient care for over 30 years, my professional judgment has been based upon available medical evidence, training and experience, and a deep sense of obligation to care for my patients in a way that best benefits their health. The conscientious practice of medicine depends upon the integration of these factors by a healthcare professional. The informed conscience of every healthcare professional serves as an inner compass for the best kind of patient care. The HHS conscience rule affirms that our CMA members must be protected from violating their deeply held beliefs as they seek to serve all patients with excellence and compassion.”

CMA Senior Vice President for Bioethics and Public Policy and Obstetrician-Gynecologist, Dr. Jeffrey Barrows noted, “As an Ob-Gyn physician, I have delivered many babies of mothers and fathers who specifically sought a life-affirming physician for their care. The conscience rule not only upholds and enforces decades of federal law passed on a bipartisan basis; it also helps ensure that patients will have a choice of life-affirming physicians who match their values.

“All health care professionals must have the freedom to practice medicine without being forced to violate their conscience. The updated conscience rule released by HHS in 2019 ensures this freedom, establishing conscience protections for all health care professionals, regardless of faith background.”

Evidence indicates that conscience protections help ensure patient access to healthcare at a time of physician shortages nationally. National polling commissioned by CMA and conducted in 2019 by an independent polling firm found that while faith-based health professional respondents overwhelmingly said that they care for all patients regardless of agreement with patients’ choices, none of ten said that being required to violate their consciences would force them to leave the practice of medicine.

For more information on the court case and access to the amicus briefs, see https://www.becketlaw.org/case/new-york-v-hhs/.

For legal perspectives and attorney interviews, contact Ryan Colby: media@becketlaw.org, 202-349-7219.

*The Christian Medical Association serves approximately 19,000 members and, along with the Christian Dental Association, forms the Christian Medical & Dental Associations.