Catholic groups pummel HHS secretary after heated exchange with GOP rep on transgender surgeries

Catholic groups and other conservative organizations are going after Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra after a GOP lawmaker accused him of withholding federal funds from hospitals that do not perform transgender surgeries on religious grounds.

Rep. Mary Miller, R-Ill., clashed with Becerra at a heated House hearing on Wednesday, demanding that he commit to not blocking federal dollars from doctors or hospitals “that refuse to provide the gender-affirming care that you’re mandating if it violates their religious beliefs.”

“You’re going somewhere completely different. First, you’re talking about how a doctor should have the rights to not offer particular care. Then you stretch it out to provide for the system-wide services… very different,” Becerra said in a clip later shared by Miller.

Miller replied, “You’ve put out this guidance and doctors do need to know what are you going to do if they refuse to provide this care?”

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Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra got into a tense exchange with Rep. Mary Miller, R-Ill., on Wednesday. (Getty Images)

“A doctor, if that doctor has religious objections, that doctor under these rules is not required to offer the care,” Becerra said, adding doctors “don’t get federal funding.”

When Miller pressed him about the faith-based hospitals where many doctors work, he said, “If a health care facility is violating the law and not providing the service they’re required to, they are not entitled to the resources.”

Becerra told Miller earlier in the exchange, “If a provider for religious reasons objects, they are not forced to provide any particular service.”

But Miller posted on X after the hearing, “After attempting to lie, HHS Secretary Becerra says the quiet part out loud. Joe Biden’s government will withhold funds from religious hospitals that refuse to provide sex-change operations for young children.”

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Miller grilled Becerra on accusations that a new Health Department rule would tie hospitals’ hands on transgender surgeries. (Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)

CatholicVote President Brian Burch told Fox News Digital, “Secretary Becerra has made a career of targeting Catholics. Now, in his disdain for faith-based health care institutions and medical professionals, including the numerous Catholic hospital systems across the country, he is threatening the care of millions of Americans.”

“This administration has done more harm to the Catholic faith and religious Americans than any which has preceded it. It is time for the American people to take a stand against this administration’s overt hostility toward institutions of faith. November can’t come soon enough,” he said.

Solidarity HealthShare President Chris Faddis said the recent HHS rule, which prohibits health programs that get federal dollars from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age or sex, including whether a patient identifies as LGBTQ+, confirms “our grave concern that his agency has no intention of honoring the empty promise to protect religious freedom”

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Catholic groups are outraged at Becerra’s department. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“These rules mandate gender transition surgeries even when it violates the faith of religious doctors and health care systems, not to mention their best medical judgment,” Faddis said.

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Katy Talento, executive director of the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries and a former Trump administration health adviser, said the rule would force hospitals to provide transgender surgeries “or else lose access to federal funding to care for the poor and elderly, such as Medicaid and Medicare.”

“Instead of helping young people embrace how God created them as male or female, the Biden administration wants to permanently alter their bodies and force sterilization in many cases. Not only should hospitals use all available legal options to fight back, but Americans more broadly must wake up to this wicked agenda and roundly reject this wicked gender ideology at every turn,” said Walker Wildmon, vice president of the American Family Association.

Fox News Digital reached out to HHS for comment.