Statement by Louis Brown, Esq, Executive Director

For Immediate Release
July 28, 2022

 The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has proposed a new regulation (Section 1557) that undermines health and human dignity, undermines the civil rights of medical conscience and religious freedom, and creates a potential nationwide mandate for abortion and transgender procedures. By undermining medical conscience rights, I also fear that the rule would contribute to the throwaway culture in medicine that harms not only the unborn but also the elderly and patients suffering from life threatening conditions. Furthermore, the proposed rule would decrease health care access for patients across the country by causing many medical professionals and medical practices to curtail their services, to leave the practice of medicine, or to shut down.

The proposed 1557 rule has the potential to make pro-life health care unlawful for many health care entities and to lay the regulatory groundwork to push Catholic health care professionals and hospitals out of health care. HHS should not attempt to coerce medical professionals and health care institutions to perform abortions and transgender procedures that are unethical, harmful to patients, and that violate the principle of human dignity.  Over time and if implemented as it is, the proposed rule will decrease access to medical care for countless underserved communities by driving pro-life and religious health care workers and health care entities out of the health care system.

Unless revised, this proposed HHS 1557 regulation also erodes the foundations of civil rights in health care – the right to life, the right of conscience, and the right of religious freedom, which are necessary to protect human dignity in medicine. The proposed rule is clearly unlawful as it exceeds HHS’s regulatory authority under the Affordable Care Act. The proposed HHS rule is also unlawful because the First Amendment, Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and federal conscience laws prohibit HHS from taking sweeping regulatory action that infringes on religious freedom, that mandates abortion, or that violates the medical conscience rights of health care professionals and health entities.  

Medical conscience – moral, ethical, and religious convictions rooted in human dignity – protect the life and health of patients and are especially vital for the vulnerable: the unborn, the elderly, patients with special needs, patients who are poor, patients who are racial minorities and other patients from historically disadvantaged communities. Conscience and religious freedom rights ensure that medicine is only used to protect and care for the health and life of patients. Furthermore, medical conscience rights complement existing civil rights statutes that prohibit unjust discrimination based on race, sex, disability, and national origin. Ultimately, the civil rights of medical conscience and religious freedom in health care protect the freedom of medical professionals to love their patients. Specifically for Catholic medical professionals and medical institutions, these rights protect their freedom to share Christ’s healing love with the sick, suffering, and forgotten.

Nondiscrimination in health care is vital and if we as a nation wish to fully protect the civil rights of patients, the most basic civil rights to life, conscience, and religious freedom must be fully protected. I hope and pray that HHS will make the courageous choice to revise the proposed rule, to eliminate provisions that coerce abortion and transgender procedures, to remove provisions that violate medical conscience and religious freedom rights, and to truly protect human dignity and civil rights, including the civil rights of medical conscience and religious freedom that safeguard human dignity and the right to love and care for patients.

The Christ Medicus Foundation shares Jesus Christ’s healing love in health care. We champion religious freedom for medical professionals and patients. We promote Christ-centered pro-life medical care, and we offer our CURO Catholic Health Care Community for medical needs and whole-person wellness.  Founded in 1997, the Christ Medicus Foundation works to accomplish its mission in religious freedom and medical conscience through promoting public policy and education, supporting Christ-centered pro-life medical centers and our CURO Health Care Community.

PRESS CONTACT: Kathy Dempsey for Christ Medicus Foundation