7 States Sue HHS for Forcing Health Providers to Perform Transgender Procedures

Tom Ozimek
By Tom Ozimek
July 11, 2024US News
7 States Sue HHS for Forcing Health Providers to Perform Transgender Procedures
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra holds a news conference before a game between the Seattle Storm and the Las Vegas Aces at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas, Nev., on June 19, 2024. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Seven states and the American College of Pediatricians have filed a lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and related officials over a rule that requires health care providers to perform gender-transition procedures, including on minors, which the plaintiffs argue is an unconstitutional attempt to override state law.

The states of Missouri, Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Idaho, and Arkansas joined the suit.

The complaint, filed July 10 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, asks the court to vacate and declare unlawful the new rule recently published by HHS in the Federal Register.

Other defendants are HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, Melanie Fontes Rainer, director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights, and Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The rule modifies nondiscrimination protections in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in a way that expands the definition of sex discrimination to include discrimination based on “gender identity.”

“Doctors should not be compelled to harm children,” the complaint states, adding that the new rule “forces doctors to perform, refer for, or affirm harmful gender-transition procedures and forces States to pay for these dangerous procedures in state health plans. This radical mandate will hurt children.”

The rule, which applies to health programs and activities that receive federal funding, explicitly provides nondiscrimination protections based on “gender identity” and sexual orientation, and categorically prohibits the denial of “gender-affirming” care. It also requires states to pay for gender transition procedures through their Medicaid programs and forces health care providers who receive federal funding to perform such procedures, even in violation of state law.

The plaintiffs argue that the rule violates the ACA and the Administrative Procedure Act, runs counter to the principles of federalism, and amounts to a violation of freedom of speech.

“Our doctors take an oath to do no harm,” Dr. Jill Simmons, executive director of the American College of Pediatricians, said in a statement, adding that the rule forces doctors, “to violate this oath and perform procedures that are harmful and dangerous to our patients—vulnerable children.”

HHS: Rule Change Accords With Supreme Court

The rule was supposed to go into effect on July 5 but was temporarily blocked by a Mississippi court in response to a lawsuit filed by 15 Republican states and led by Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti. The current Missouri-led lawsuit is another attempt to block the rule.

In response to the Tennessee lawsuit, HHS said the updated definition of sex discrimination is in line with a 2020 Supreme Court decision that held that discrimination based on sex includes transgender status.

In Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, a 6–3 decision by the high court held that firing individuals because of their sexual orientation or transgender status violates Title VII’s prohibition on discrimination in hiring.

When HHS announced the new final rule on April 26, the agency said in a statement that it amounted to “bold action” to bolster protections against discrimination.

“Today’s rule is a giant step forward for this country toward a more equitable and inclusive health care system, and means that Americans across the country now have a clear way to act on their rights against discrimination when they go to the doctor, talk with their health plan, or engage with health programs run by HHS,” Mr. Becerra said in a statement.

HHS also stated that the new final rule adds protections against discrimination by codifying that Section 1557’s prohibition against discrimination based on sex that includes LGBT patients.

HHS did not respond to a request for comment on the latest effort.

From The Epoch Times