The White House Gives Up on Transgender Medical Procedure Mandate
The White House has decided not to seek intervention from the U.S. Supreme Court regarding its requirement for health care organizations and hospitals to perform and cover transgender medical procedures. This decision comes after missing the deadline to file an appeal.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a legal group, announced that the Biden administration failed to appeal its case to the U.S. Supreme Court by the June 20 deadline. Multiple courts had previously blocked the administration’s mandate, including the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
“After multiple defeats in court, the federal government has thrown in the towel on its controversial, medically unsupported transgender mandate,” said Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represented the plaintiffs in the case. The case, known as Sisters of Mercy v. Becerra, was last heard in the 8th Circuit in December, where a panel of judges ruled unanimously in favor of a group of Catholic hospitals, nuns, and a university.
Goodrich emphasized that “doctors take a solemn oath to ‘do no harm,’ and they can’t keep that oath if the federal government is forcing them to perform harmful, irreversible procedures against their conscience and medical expertise.”
While celebrating the victory over the mandate, Goodrich highlighted the importance of religious doctors and hospitals in providing vital care to patients in need, including millions of dollars in free and low-cost care to the elderly, poor, and underserved. He stated, “This is a win for patients, conscience, and common sense.”
The health care mandate originated from a 2016 interpretation of Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, which stated that doctors and hospitals are obligated to provide transgender procedures for both adults and children. The Trump administration attempted to repeal this rule in 2020, but their efforts were blocked by federal courts. In the same year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Bostock v. Clayton County that discrimination based on gender identity is a form of discrimination.
The plaintiffs initially sued in 2016 to challenge the rule, but the case was put on hold for most of the Trump administration. They amended their complaint in 2020 after the Trump-era rule was blocked.
In December, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a North Dakota federal judge who stated that the HHS rule infringes on the religious freedoms of the plaintiffs, including a group of nuns who operate health clinics for the underprivileged and an association of Catholic health care professionals. The 5th Circuit, based in New Orleans, reached the same conclusion in August in a case brought by Christian medical groups.
U.S. District Judge Peter Welte in Fargo, North Dakota, ruled in favor of the plaintiffs last year.
Welte stated that applying the rule to providers with religious objections to performing gender transition surgeries would violate the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which prohibits the government from burdening an individual’s exercise of religion.
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