The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Friday issued a regulation reversing an Obamacare “sex discrimination” rule that purported to protect transgender rights and women seeking abortions.
According to Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of “race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability in certain health programs and activities.”
In 2016, a regulation issued by the Obama administration redefined sex as “one’s internal sense of gender, which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female.”
Under the Obama rule, doctors could not opt out of participating in an abortion or a transgender procedure even if it violated their conscience, as the Obamacare rule viewed doing so as discrimination based on sex.
That regulation was rejected by a federal court in October 2019.
Under the new policy, proposed by President Trump in June 2019, hospitals and health insurance agencies can refuse to provide services such as abortions and transgender procedures on the basis of religious freedom.
The new rules also restore the definition of the word “sex” to mean biological sex of male or female:
“HHS will enforce Section 1557 by returning to the government’s interpretation of sex discrimination according to the plain meaning of the word ‘sex’ as male or female and as determined by biology,” the agency announced on Friday.