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Florida, Catholic doctors sue Biden admin for redefining 'sex' in health care

Florida Attorney General representing the State of Florida and ADF attorneys representing the Catholic Medical Association file lawsuit against HHS

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

TAMPA, Fla. – The State of Florida and Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing the Catholic Medical Association filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Monday after the agency adopted a rule Monday that forces medical professionals and insurance providers to perform or pay for harmful “gender-transition” procedures or face severe financial consequences. ADF attorneys joined Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody in immediately challenging the Biden administration’s unlawful rule.

The Biden administration published a rule change Monday that redefines “sex” in federal health care nondiscrimination law to include “gender identity.” As announced, the rule change forces CMA members to lose federal funding or risk severe penalties for treating and referring to patients by their biological sex. The rule also requires Florida to follow unscientific standards of care and limits the state’s power to set protective standards of care for health professionals. The State of Florida and ADF attorneys filed the lawsuit the same day the rule was officially published.

“Florida passed a law to protect our children from dangerous, irreversible gender-transition drugs and surgeries,” said Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody. “Now, Biden and his federal bureaucrats are trying to go around our child-protection law to force the state to pay for puberty blockers and gender-transition surgery for children. These rules trample states’ power to protect their own citizens and we will not stand by as Biden tries, yet again, to use the force of the federal government to unlawfully stifle Florida’s effort to protect children.”

“The Biden administration’s attempt to hijack medicine is the latest example of its unlawful overreach,” said ADF Senior Counsel Julie Marie Blake. “The HHS rule will harm those suffering from gender dysphoria, particularly children, and punish doctors who seek to care for them. Medical professionals around the world and individuals who have undergone these experimental, body-altering procedures are warning about their risks. Yet the Biden administration is working to force doctors to perform these dangerous, often sterilizing procedures to make people appear as the opposite sex. This rule change contradicts legal precedent set by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, and we are urging the court to halt the administration’s vast overreach in health care.”

In State of Florida v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services the attorneys argue that the administration’s rule change to Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act abuses its regulatory powers to force health care and medical insurance providers to classify body-altering and dangerous procedures as necessary treatment.

“[T]he 2024 Rules would fundamentally redefine the practice of medicine and place [HHS Office for Civil Rights] lawyers in the strange position of overseeing—and second-guessing—the clinical and ethical judgments of health care professionals and state medical boards across the country,” the lawsuit states. “Section 1557 is an ordinary non-discrimination law, not a Trojan horse empowering OCR to play doctor and decree gender-transition interventions as the federal standard of care through threats of enforcement.”

The Catholic Medical Association is the largest association of Catholic individuals in health care with 2,500 members nationwide in all fields of practice. CMA has a Florida statewide guild called the Florida Catholic Medical Association with seven guilds located around the state. The State of Florida and ADF attorneys filed the lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division.

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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