TEXAS OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL: AG Pax­ton: HHS Pro­pos­es Rule that Would Pro­tect Health­care Con­science Rights, and Undo Unlaw­ful Oba­macare Rule that Texas Suc­cess­ful­ly Challenged

By Press release submission | May 28, 2019

Texas Office of the Attorney General issued the following announcement on May 24.

Trump administration opened the public comment period on its potential repeal of an unlawful Obama-era health care regulation that redefined sex discrimination to include gender identity and abortion. Texas obtained an order from a federal court in 2016 enjoining the regulation. The new proposed rule announced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would allow medical providers to operate in accord with their conscience, their best medical judgment, and the Hippocratic Oath. In announcing the new rule, HHS pointed to the injunction obtained by Texas demonstrating that the prior Obama-era rule is “likely unlawful.”

Obamacare contains a provision prohibiting sex discrimination in the provision of federally funded healthcare. The Obama administration’s regulation – which the proposed rule announced would repeal – interpreted “sex” to include gender identity and abortion. The effect was to force federally funded doctors, health care providers, and state employers who provide insurance to violate their religious and ethical judgment by providing sex change surgeries and abortions.

In August 2016, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton led a multi-state lawsuit against the rule and obtained a nationwide preliminary injunction against its enforcement in 2016. In February 2019, he urged the court to issue a summary judgment declaring the rule unlawful, so it can be wiped permanently from the Code of Federal Regulations. In April 2019, HHS filed a brief agreeing the rule is unlawful. The decision to repeal the rule highlights the need for the court to provide a permanent injunction against its enforcement.

“The Obama administration’s rule was a transparent attempt to impose a radical redefinition of sex and gender by bureaucratic fiat,” Attorney General Paxton said. “The proposal to return to the time-honored and scientifically rigorous definition of the word ‘sex’ represents an admirable respect for the rule of law. It is welcome news for those in the health care industry with moral, religious, and medical objections to sex change surgery and abortion. Meanwhile, my office continues to push the courts to ensure that a future president can never again sacrifice providers’ conscience rights and best medical judgment to progressive social engineering.”

States that failed to comply with the Obama administration’s rule ran the risk of losing health care funding and exposed themselves to lawsuits. Even the partial loss of health care funding in Texas would fall disproportionately on vulnerable citizens who participate in Medicare and Medicaid.

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