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McComb Children's Clinic v. Becerra

Description:  A Mississippi children's clinic is challenging the Biden administration over a rule change to Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act that attempts to change the definition of "sex" to include "gender identity."  

A pediatrician with a baby
Tuesday, May 14, 2024

NATCHEZ, Miss. – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing a Mississippi children’s clinic filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services after the agency adopted a rule that forces medical caregivers to provide and promote harmful procedures or face severe financial consequences.

McComb Children’s Clinic is a pediatrics practice that serves the McComb, Mississippi, community. The clinic’s pediatricians work with parents to provide compassionate, comprehensive services to children from birth through adolescence. On May 6, the Biden administration published a rule change that redefines “sex” in federal health care nondiscrimination law to include “gender identity.” Because McComb Children’s Clinic is committed to children’s health based on their actual biology—and because the clinic is following state law which prohibits gender transition procedures on minors—the rule change forces it to lose federal funding or risk severe penalties unless it provides, promotes, or refers for harmful procedures, which it will not do.

“Doctors should be allowed to fulfill their Hippocratic Oath to do no harm and follow their medical judgment without fear of government intervention,” said ADF Senior Counsel Matt Bowman, director of regulatory practice. “These radical changes by HHS will completely upend the practice of medicine. The Biden administration is working to force doctors to do harm by providing unnecessary procedures that remove healthy body parts and prescribing puberty blockers. Congress did not grant HHS any kind of authority to force health care providers to perform these dangerous procedures, and we are urging the court to halt the administration’s vast overreach in health care.”

In McComb Children’s Clinic v. Becerra, the attorneys argue that the rule change to Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act applies to virtually every health care entity in America and “creates a new government-mandated standard of care.” The lawsuit points out that, if health care clinics treat puberty complications, the new rule requires them to perform elective procedures such as the removal of otherwise healthy body parts. When advocates urged the Biden administration to withdraw the proposed change to the rule, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra dismissed the concerns as “the hateful and harmful beliefs of a narrow-minded few.”

Local counsel D. Michael Hurst, Jr. of Phelps Dunbar LLP in Jackson, Mississippi, one of more than 4,700 attorneys in the ADF Attorney Network, filed the lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, Western Division. ADF attorneys will seek to appear as co-counsel in the case.

This is the second lawsuit that ADF attorneys have filed challenging the new HHS rule. In the first case, State of Florida v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ADF attorneys represent the Catholic Medical Association.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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ABOUT Matt Bowman

Matt Bowman serves as senior counsel and director of regulatory practice for Alliance Defending Freedom, where he leads the team focusing on the impact of administrative law on religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and family. From 2017 to 2020, Bowman was a senior executive service appointee in the Trump administration, serving the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as Deputy General Counsel, and then in the Office for Civil Rights. Prior to joining HHS, Bowman was an accomplished litigator at ADF for over ten years. Before joining ADF in 2006, Bowman served as a law clerk for Judges Samuel A. Alito, Jr., and Michael A. Chagares, at the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and for Judge John M. Roll at the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. Bowman earned his J.D. summa cum laude and was first in his class at Ave Maria School of Law in 2003. He is a member of the bar of the District of Columbia and Michigan and is admitted to practice at the U.S. Supreme Court and multiple federal appellate and district courts.