Washington, D.C. – A federal judge in Texas blocked Monday a Biden Administration initiative to force doctors and hospitals to perform gender transition procedures on patients even when those procedures have the potential to cause medical harm or violate the conscience rights of the doctors and hospital personnel involved.
The decision by Judge Reed O’Connor of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas permanently enjoins the U.S Department of 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 a 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.” It’s the second time the mandate has been blocked in the federal courts.
“Today’s ruling is a victory for compassion, conscience, and common sense,” The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty’s Luke Goodrich said after the decision was issued. “No doctor should be forced to perform controversial, medically unsupported procedures that are contrary to their conscience and could be deeply harmful to their patients.”
The case challenging the policy, Franciscan Alliance v. Becerra, was brought by a religious hospital, an association of over 20,000 healthcare professionals, and nine states as part of the continuing legal battle still being fought over the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare. It was the Obama Administration in fact that originally issued the mandate and attempted to bring every doctor in the country subject to it, making those who refused for any reason subject to litigation and other possible consequences including the imposition of financial penalties.
As a result of suits brought after the policy to enforce cooperation throughout the medical community on elective abortions and transgender reassignment surgery, the mandate was blocked in court in 2016. The Biden Administration recently announced however that it would attempt to enforce it once again as part of its effort to expand the provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
“These religious doctors and hospitals provide top-notch medical care to all patients for everything from cancer to the common cold,” Goodrich said. “Everyone benefits when doctors are able to follow their professional medical judgment and their Hippocratic Oath to ‘Do No Harm.’” The administration has 60 days in which to decide whether it will appeal Judge O’Connor’s decision.
Peter Roff can be reached at RoffColumns AT GMAIL.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeterRoff.
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