Appeals court blocks Biden from forcing doctors to do gender transitions

Appeals court blocks Biden from forcing doctors to do gender transitions
Image: Global News video screen grab

“A federal appeals court blocked a Biden administration plan Friday that would coerce doctors to perform gender-transition medical procedures and abortions that violate their conscience or medical judgment,” reports The National Review.

The plaintiffs, a religious hospital and group of over 20,000 health-care professionals, launched the lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services in August 2016 after the federal government mandated that most health-care providers perform and provide insurance coverage for such procedures.

The district court had determined that HHS could not interpret or enforce Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits health-care programs that receive federal funds from discriminating against patients on the basis of sex, to compel Franciscan Alliance to insure gender-reassignment surgeries or abortions, according to the court filing. In May 2016, HHS expanded Section 1557’s definition of sex discrimination to include discrimination on the basis of “termination of pregnancy” and “gender identity.” Secretary of HHS Xavier Becerra appealed the district court’s ruling.

While Becerra’s appeal was pending, the Biden administration issued a “Notice and Guidance on Gender Affirming Care,” doubling down on its reasoning, which Judge Don Willett found on Friday to be flawed, that Obamacare mandates that hospitals perform gender-reassignment surgeries and abortions.

On Friday, circuit judges Jennifer Walker Elrod, Willett, and Kurt Engelhardt affirmed the decision of the district court that granted Franciscan Alliance a permanent injunction, barring the HHS from forcing it to provide gender-reassignment surgeries or abortions against its religious beliefs [in its ruling in Franciscan Alliance v. Becerra].

Earlier this month, Luke Goodrich, attorney with the Becket Fund who has been working on the case since the Obama-era rule was first issued, said in a call with reporters that if the plaintiffs had lost, the Biden administration would have declared “open season” on religious hospitals that object to gender transitions.

“If we lose, that means all these tens of thousands of religious doctors and hospitals all across the country are subject to massive financial penalties,” Goodrich said.

The plaintiffs were represented by Becket, which focuses on religious-liberty litigation. The ACLU joined in supporting the Biden administration as intervenor defendants. The ACLU argued that the district court erred in blocking the Biden plan because the Franciscan Alliance did not satisfy the irreparable-harm standard, or did not demonstrate that it would suffer injury without the plan’s being blocked.

“We have recognized that the loss of freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment, RLUIPA, and RFRA all constitute per se irreparable harm,” the federal appeals court wrote Friday.

At Hot Air, Jazz Shaw argues that even apart from religious freedom considerations, the Biden plan should have been struck down because it interferes with doctors’ sound medical judgment:

It seems as if the objections raised by the Franciscan Alliance could have been based solely on objections to governmental interference in proper medical care. Even though the American Medical Association has clearly gone woke and lost its collective mind, medical associations should be able to base their objections on one of the bedrocks of the medical profession found in the words of Hippocrates. “First Do No Harm.” (Actually, the current oath specifically says “I will abstain from all intentional wrong-doing and harm, “but you get the point.)

Intentionally cutting into a healthy body presenting no evidence of a malady is doing harm, plain and simple. That’s why plastic surgery was so controversial for a long time. But transgender advocates don’t refer to this as cosmetic surgery. We are repeatedly assured that this is “health care” of the “gender-affirming” variety. But performing an irreversible castration on a male body (most especially a child) and creating a permanent wound that will require constant medical attention for the rest of their life is not healthcare. The same goes for mastectomies and hysterectomies for young girls. And if doctors refuse to do these things based on their obligation to stay true to their oaths, the courts should have no trouble backing them up without dragging the First Amendment into it.

LU Staff

LU Staff

Promoting and defending liberty, as defined by the nation’s founders, requires both facts and philosophical thought, transcending all elements of our culture, from partisan politics to social issues, the workings of government, and entertainment and off-duty interests. Liberty Unyielding is committed to bringing together voices that will fuel the flame of liberty, with a dialogue that is lively and informative.

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