A coalition of faith-based doctors and hospitals won a major legal victory Friday when a federal appeals court permanently blocked the Biden administration from forcing medical professionals to perform gender transition surgeries and other procedures that violate their conscience.
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. In 2021, the Department of Health and Human Services issued an interpretation of Section 1557 saying the law also prohibits “discrimination on the basis of gender identity” and therefore requires doctors to perform “gender-affirming care.”
On Friday, the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a unanimous 3-0 ruling, sided with a coalition of Catholic doctors and hospitals in blocking the Biden administration rule. The appeals court upheld a lower court decision that had also ruled against the Biden administration.
“A substantial burden weighs on the exercise of religion” because the “interpretations of Section 1557 and Title VII threaten to penalize the Catholic [p]laintiffs for adhering to their beliefs,” the Eighth Circuit decision said, quoting the lower court ruling.
The Catholic doctors and hospitals would suffer “irreparable harm” if the Biden administration were allowed to enforce the interpretation, the Eighth Circuit said.
“We affirm the district court’s grant of permanent injunctive relief to the plaintiffs,” the decision said.
It was the second appeals court to rule against the Biden administration on the issue, following an earlier decision by the Fifth Circuit.
“The federal government has no business forcing doctors to violate their consciences or perform controversial procedures that could permanently harm their patients,” said Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel at Becket, which brought the lawsuit. “This is a common-sense ruling that protects patients, aligns with best medical practice, and ensures doctors can follow their Hippocratic Oath to ‘do no harm.’”
"The federal government has no business forcing doctors to violate their consciences or perform controversial procedures that could permanently harm their patients." –@LukeWGoodrich— BECKET (@BECKETlaw) December 9, 2022
More on today's Eighth Circuit ruling against the #transgendermandate. https://t.co/LrucPFQnsY
Christian Doctors Defeat Biden ‘Transgender Mandate’ as Administration Declines to Appeal
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Pornpak Khunatorn
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.