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Benefits association, diocese file suit over HHS transgender regulation


Opponents of North Carolina's law limiting bathroom access for transgender people protest above the state's House of Representatives chamber in Raleigh, N.C., Dec. 21. (CNS photo/Jonathan Drake, Reuters)

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FARGO, N.D. (CNS) -- The Catholic Benefits Association, the Diocese of Fargo and Catholic Charities North Dakota filed a lawsuit Dec. 28 in U.S. District Court in North Dakota against a federal regulation scheduled to take effect Jan. 1 that redefines "sex" for anti-discrimination purposes to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

The regulation from the Department of Health and Human Services requires that Catholic hospitals and health care providers perform or provide gender transition services, hormonal treatments and counseling as well as a host of surgeries that would remove or transform the sexual organs of men or women transitioning to the other gender. The HHS regulation requires group health plans to cover these procedures and services.

"We ask only for the freedom to serve consistent with our conscience and our Catholic faith," Bishop John T. Folda of Fargo said in a statement, released by the Catholic Benefits Association. "While we do not discriminate against individuals because of their orientation, our Catholic values will not permit us to pay for or facilitate actions that are contrary to our faith."

The Catholic Benefits Association is made up of Catholic dioceses, hospitals, school systems, religious orders and other entities that offer their employees insurance and benefit programs that adhere to Catholic teaching.

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