In a major victory for faith-based doctors and hospitals, the Biden administration has chosen not to appeal a court decision from August that ruled the administration cannot force medical professionals to perform abortions and gender-transition procedures that violate their religious beliefs.
At issue was the Biden administration’s interpretation of Section 1557 of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which prohibits discrimination in health care on the basis of sex. The Biden administration’s Department of Health and Human Services interpreted Section 1557 as also banning discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Further, it ruled that “covered entities restricting an individual’s ability to receive … gender-affirming care … likely violates Section 1557.”
In August, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a district court decision that had blocked the Biden administration from requiring faith-based medical professionals from being required to perform gender-transition surgeries or abortions. The suit was brought by the Franciscan Alliance and the Christian Medical and Dental Society, among others.
The deadline for filing an appeal passed last week without the Biden administration taking action.
The Department of Health and Human Services “has steadfastly refused to promise that it would not enforce Section 1557” against faith-based doctors and groups, the Fifth Circuit decision said.
“We have recognized that the loss of freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment” and other federal laws “all constitute per se irreparable harm,” the decision said.
Luke Goodrich, an attorney with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, celebrated the news of the Biden administration’s inaction. Becket represented the Franciscan Alliance.
“Great news! The Biden Admin’s transgender mandate – requiring doctors and hospitals to perform gender transitions against conscience and best medical judgment – has been struck down. AND the Admin has declined to appeal to #SCOTUS – meaning this win is FINAL,” Goodrich tweeted.
Great news! The Biden Admin’s transgender mandate--requiring doctors and hospitals to perform gender transitions against conscience and best medical judgment--has been struck down. AND the Admin has declined to appeal to #SCOTUS--meaning this win is FINAL https://t.co/43RjyvTvyv— Luke Goodrich (@LukeWGoodrich) November 28, 2022
“The Obama Admin issued the mandate 6 years ago and tried to apply it to virtually every doctor nationwide. It would have required doctors to perform gender transitions on any patient, including children. The medical professionals that challenged the mandate happily serve all patients, regardless of sex or gender identity. But they can’t perform these procedures, which are widely disputed in the medical community.”
The medical professionals that challenged the mandate happily serve all patients, regardless of sex or gender identity. But they can’t perform these procedures, which are widely disputed in the medical community.— Luke Goodrich (@LukeWGoodrich) November 28, 2022
A similar case is pending in the Eighth Circuit, Goodrich said.
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.