A federal judge handed Christian doctors and supporters of religious liberty a major victory Tuesday, ruling they cannot be forced to assist with gender-reassignment procedures, such as sex-change surgeries.
The case stretches back to the Obama administration, when the Department of Health and Human Services issued a rule requiring virtually every doctor to assist with gender-transition procedures as part of ObamaCare, Becket Law reports.
District Judge Reed O’Connor issued an injunction against the rule in 2016, and the Trump administration followed by issuing a proposed new rule protecting the conscience rights of Christian doctors and other medical professionals.
On Tuesday, O’Connor finalized his 2016 decision, ruling the Obama-era rule “substantially burdens” religious exercise rights in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a federal law. O’Connor was nominated by President George W. Bush.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty had sued the government on behalf of the Franciscan Alliance, a religious hospital network sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, and the Christian Medical & Dental Associations.
“It is critically important that doctors are able to continue serving patients in keeping with their consciences and their professional medical judgment, especially when it comes to the personal health choices of families and children,” said Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel at Becket. “Doctors cannot do their jobs if government bureaucrats are trying to force them to perform potentially harmful procedures that violate their medical and moral judgment.”
The Obama-era rule, Becket argued, would have required them to perform gender-transition procedures on any patient, even if “the doctor believed the treatment could harm the patient.” Doctors who refused could have lost their job.
Goodrich called it a “major victory for compassion, conscience, and sound medical judgment.”
“Our clients look forward to joyfully continuing to serve all patients, regardless of their sex or gender identity, and continuing to provide top-notch care to transgender patients for everything from cancer to the common cold,” Goodrich said.
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: J.C Gellidon/Unsplash
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.