Federal judge overturns Obamacare rules for transgenders

A federal judge in Texas has struck down rules issued by HHS that would force doctors to help with gender transition procedures for transgender people even if it vioilated their religious beliefs.

Conserviatve groups hailed the decision as a victory for reliigious freedom.

“This is a common-sense ruling: The government has no business forcing private doctors to perform procedures that the government itself recognizes can be harmful, particularly to children, and that the government exempts its own doctors from performing,” said Lori Windham, senior counsel at Becket Law, which filed a lawsuit against the new federal regulation. “Today’s ruling ensures that doctors’ best medical judgment will not be replaced with political agendas and bureaucratic interference.”                    

The new regulation applied to over 900,000 doctors—nearly every doctor in the U.S.—and would have cost healthcare providers and taxpayers nearly $1 billion. The government itself does not require its own military doctors to perform these procedures. It also does not require blanket coverage of gender transition procedures in Medicare or Medicaid—even in adults—because HHS’s experts admitted research is “‘inconclusive’ on whether gender reassignment surgery improves health outcomes,” with some studies demonstrating that these procedures were actually harmful. But a doctor citing the same evidence and using their best medical judgment would have faced potential lawsuits or job loss. 

The fact that the new rules might even harm patients didn't seem to matter to pro-transgender groups.

Washington Post:

Civil rights groups had hailed the new health rules as groundbreaking anti-discrimination protections. The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund said the new U.S. Health and Human Services regulations advised that certain forms of transgender discrimination by doctors, hospitals and insurers violated the Affordable Care Act.

But a coalition of religious medical organizations said the rules could force doctors to help with gender transition contrary to their religious beliefs or medical judgment. O’Connor agreed in his 46-page ruling, saying the rules place “substantial pressure on Plaintiffs to perform and cover transition and abortion procedures.”

The rules were set to take effect Sunday.

“Plaintiffs will be forced to either violate their religious beliefs or maintain their current policies which seem to be in direct conflict with the Rule and risk the severe consequences of enforcement,” O’Connor wrote.

Transgender rights advocates have called that a far-fetched hypothetical, saying a person would not approach a doctor who lacked suitable experience and expertise.

The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund criticized the injunction as contrary to existing law and said it expects the ruling to be overturned on appeal.

“Judge O’Connor’s conclusion that transgender people and persons who have had abortions are somehow excepted from protection is deeply troubling, legally specious, and morally repugnant,” said Ezra Young, the organization’s director of impact litigation.

In other words, because only a few doctors will be forced to perform services that violate their religious beliefs, the ruling is bogus. Talk about a legally "specious" argument! To force anyone to violate their religious beliefs in service to a political agenda is not only wrong, but unconstitutional. 

The case now goes to the appeals court where it faces an uncertain fate. The courts have been increasingly willing to grant transgender people rights to services based solely on their own notions of "gender identity." But this issue is not like the bathroom issue, which is a matter of interpreting cultural and traditional practices. The Obamacare rules are a threat to religious liberty and we can only hope an appeals court views it the same way.

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