A federal court on Friday struck down Biden’s Department of Health and Human Services’ attempt to force doctors to perform mutilative transgender surgeries against their religious beliefs and conscience objections.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the lawsuit Franciscan Alliance v. Becerra that “a Catholic healthcare network and a group of nearly 19,000 healthcare professionals cannot be required to carry out these procedures in violation of their deeply held beliefs and professional medical judgment,” according to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a nonprofit law firm that seeks to protect religious freedom.
HHS originally mandated that physicians perform wrongly named “sex-reassignment” surgeries as part of Obamacare in May 2016. “The requirement would have forced doctors to perform these procedures on any patient, including on children, even if the procedures went against their conscience and professional medical judgment,” Becket said following Friday’s ruling.
An association that included thousands of health care professionals, two hospitals, and eight states challenged the original Obamacare mandate in August 2016 in a Texas district court. A preliminary ruling was issued in December 2016 maintaining that this was “unlawful overreach by a federal agency,” which the court confirmed in 2019. But because the court did not “issue an order permanently stopping the government from imposing this unlawful mandate on religious hospitals and doctors,” Becket “appealed on behalf of the challengers.”
Since the 2016 Obamacare mandate and subsequent Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, President Joe Biden’s HHS has continued to shoehorn so-called “gender identity” into the definition of sex discrimination in health care. In March, HHS issued a notice saying that “[a]ttempts to restrict” transgender surgeries are “dangerous,” and earlier this month, the department filed a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,” which, if enacted, would require hospitals to perform both mutilative transgender surgeries and abortions.
Friday’s “ruling is a major victory for conscience rights and compassionate medical care in America,” said Becket counsel Joseph Davis in a press release. “Doctors cannot do their jobs and comply with the Hippocratic Oath if the government requires them to perform harmful, irreversible procedures against their conscience and medical expertise.”
Davis added that this legal victory “ensures that these doctors and hospitals may continue to do this critical work in accordance with their conscience and professional medical judgment.”
This isn’t the first time Becket has battled with the Department of Health and Human Services over religious liberty. In 2013, the firm filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Catholic organization Little Sisters of the Poor to challenge an HHS mandate that said employers must provide contraceptives in their health insurance plans. After lengthy court battles that included even the Supreme Court, the Catholic organization prevailed.