Second fed court blocks Biden mandate requiring doctors to perform trans surgeries against conscience

Mary Margaret Olohan, DCNF

A federal court has blocked President Joe Biden’s mandate that would require doctors to perform transgender surgeries against their consciences.

Judge Reed O’Connor of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Wichita Falls Division, granted “a permanent injunction” to the Christian plaintiffs “to be exempt from the government’s requirement to perform abortions and gender-transition procedures.”

“Today’s ruling protects patients, aligns with current medical research, and ensures doctors aren’t forced to violate their religious beliefs and medical judgment–a victory for common-sense, conscience, and sound medicine,” vice president and senior counsel at Becket Fund for Religious Liberty Luke Goodrich said Monday.

The plaintiffs are a religious hospital and a group of over 20,000 healthcare professionals, Goodrich noted.

The ruling permanently enjoins Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra “from interpreting or enforcing” the law “in a manner that would require them to perform or provide insurance coverage for gender-transition procedures or abortions, including by denying Federal financial assistance because of their failure to perform or provide insurance coverage for such procedures or by otherwise pursuing, charging, or assessing any penalties, fines, assessments, investigations, or other enforcement actions.”

Former President Barack Obama’s administration issued a mandate in 2016 requiring doctors and hospitals to provide transgender surgeries upon a mental health professional’s referral. The transgender mandate, an interpretation of an Affordable Care Act’s nondiscrimination clause, did not include conscience or religion exemptions.

An association of over 19,000 healthcare professionals, several religious organizations and nine states challenged the mandate in two different courts, according to a website on the mandate run by Becket.

A North Dakota Eastern Division court struck down the mandate in 2021 and Judge O’Connor of the Wichita, Texas court struck down the mandate in 2019, ruling that the government “cannot force religious doctors and hospitals to perform gender transition procedures in violation of their conscience and professional medical judgment,” according to Becket.

The Biden administration appealed the more recent North Dakota ruling in April, court filings showed, pitting Becerra against the religious Sisters of Mercy and the Catholic Benefits Association, and marking the second time Becerra has been involved in legal action against nuns.

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