In the name of “nondiscrimination,” President Joe Biden advanced last week a proposed final regulation that would force religious doctors and hospitals to perform abortions and transgender surgeries. Xavier Becerra, Biden’s Health and Human Services secretary, spent many months working on the regulation in tandem with Planned Parenthood and LGBTQ groups. The regulation turns out to be as bad as religious groups feared.
“This proposed rule ensures that people nationwide can access health care free from discrimination,” said Becerra. “Standing with communities in need is critical, particularly given increased attacks on women, trans youth, and health care providers. Health care should be a right not dependent on looks, location, love, language, or the type of care someone needs.”
The regulation is a revision to Obamacare that would allow patients seeking abortion, transgender surgery, and other immoral procedures to file complaints against health care providers who “discriminate” and violate their “civil rights.” Under the regulation, Health and Human Services could impose crushing fines on those providers.
“Discrimination” is Biden’s favorite euphemism for religious freedom — the First Amendment right of Christians and other religious groups to opt out of woke fiats. Because the religious provide so much health care — the Catholic Church runs hundreds of hospitals across the country — Biden and his secularist allies can’t resist bullying them. But instead of admitting that they seek to suppress religious freedom for the sake of attaining total power over health care, they couch this usurpation in the vague language of “access” and “nondiscrimination.” (READ MORE: Biden’s Corruption of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships)
The regulation, according to Health and Human Services, “ensures requirements to prevent and combat discrimination are operationalized by entities receiving federal funding by requiring civil rights policies and procedures.” Translation: any religious health care provider who takes Medicare or Medicaid will have to kill unborn children and mutilate confused patients or face enormous fines and lawsuits.
The U.S. Catholic bishops call the regulation a “violation of religious freedom and bad medicine.” Indeed, the regulation in effect tells hospitals that they must discard the Hippocratic Oath in order to keep operating. The bishops correctly note that what the Biden administration calls discrimination is just a principled refusal to harm patients.
“Catholic health care ministries serve everyone, no matter their race, sex, belief system or any other characteristic,” the bishops said. “The same excellent care will be provided in a Catholic hospital to all patients, including patients who identify as transgender, whether it be for a broken bone or for cancer, but we cannot do what our faith forbids. We object to harmful procedures, not to patients.”
Biden’s conception of invented liberal rights — that everyone must honor them, that they justify “universal access,” and so forth — makes his coercion of the religious inevitable. He must force them to do what their “faith forbids” or his woke project to transform America fundamentally stalls. Biden has said that he opposes “broad exemptions” for the religious as they permit “discrimination” and interfere with the “civil rights” of Americans. A secularist totalitarianism is implicit in this claim. In the end, no one is free to leave Biden’s animal farm.
To gull the public, of course, Becerra offered disingenuous assurances that this new regulation poses no threat to “conscience” or “religious freedom.” But as the bishops pointed out, such assurances mean nothing given that the Biden administration is “actively fighting court rulings that declared HHS violated religious freedom laws the last time they tried to impose such a mandate.” Biden is still trying to force the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious groups to pay for the contraceptives and abortifacients of their employees.
In his assault on religious freedom, Biden is even worse than President Barack Obama. While Obama saw Christianity in particular as an obstacle to liberal progress — he accused Christians of waging a “war on women” even as he made excuses for misogynistic Islam — he still understood that overt opposition to religious freedom and America’s historic religion is politically problematic. Recall his displeasure with a proposal to eliminate references to God from the Democratic Party platform and his initial reluctance to embrace gay marriage. But Biden shows no such hesitations. He endorsed gay marriage before Obama and now moves beyond Obama’s contraceptive mandate to propose mandates in favor of abortion and transgenderism.
That Biden is America’s second Catholic president makes all this even more bewildering and perverse. Catholic hospitals will likely suffer the most under his new regulation. He expects them to bring their practices into line with his liberalism or face potential bankruptcy. Lawyers for Catholic hospitals are already warning them that the regulation constitutes an “existential threat” and that they should gird themselves for a panoply of class-action lawsuits, onerous fines, and even criminal prosecution against noncompliant executives. Woe to those guilty of “discrimination” in Biden’s America.