MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: a legal victory for the conscience rights of doctors.
Last week, a federal court in Texas blocked a federal policy known as the Transgender Mandate. That would force religious doctors and hospitals to perform sex change procedures on their patients—including children.
This latest ruling is the second court decision to block the administration from enforcing this very controversial policy.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: The ruling stems from a lawsuit that the Christian Medical and Dental Associations filed on behalf of several hospitals to protect their conscience rights.
And joining us now to talk more about that is Dr. Jeff Barrows. He’s an OB/Gyn and executive vice president for bioethics and public policy at the Christian Medical and Dental Associations.
Dr. Barrows, good morning!
JEFF BARROWS, GUEST: Good morning, Mary, thank you for having me on.
REICHARD: Glad to have you here. So would you please explain in a bit more detail what the Transgender Mandate would require of physicians.
BARROWS: Well, in 2016, Health and Human Services changed the definition of sex discrimination within their regulations, and expanded it to include gender identification, and also, by the way pregnancy. And we recognize that what that meant was that if a healthcare professional refused to provide gender transition procedures to a patient, they could be accused of being discriminatory and a suit filed against them, charging them with discrimination. And so we began right away fighting that legally in the federal district court of northern Texas. And we're very thankful for this victory.
REICHARD: So this policy was introduced under the Obama administration in 2016—what happened after that?
BARROWS: Well, after the policy was introduced by the Obama HHS, we immediately filed suit in federal court. And then after that, the Trump administration came into power and HHS took a completely different view of this particular provision within their regulations. And so on October 15, 2019, the Federal Court issued a final judgment vacating that rule. But then in June of 2020, HHS under the Trump administration finalized that rule—rule 1557—returning it essentially back to its long standing meaning. Then shortly after that was put out by the Trump HHS, a federal district court out of New York issued an injunction against the new HHS rule, they filed suit, and we ended up back in court fighting for our conscience rights. So it was a long drawn out process that went to the Fifth Circuit, and then back to the federal district court, which just earlier this month did release their final ruling and giving us permanent protection from HHS against practicing medicine against our conscience.
REICHARD: What is the Biden administration’s justification for trying to force this on physicians?
BARROWS: I really don't have a good answer for that, because I want to make it clear to all your listeners that all of our members serve all patients, regardless of their race, their gender, their sexual orientation, or gender identity. We oppose anybody that would discriminate against somebody simply on the basis of their gender identity. And I know that there are many specialized clinics around the country that these patients can go to, so I really don't understand why Health and Human Services would try and force us as conscientious Christian health care professionals to practice against our conscience.
REICHARD: I wonder what have you heard from doctors about efforts to coerce them into performing transgender procedures?
BARROWS: Our members are very concerned about this. They're worried that they may be forced to prescribe puberty blockers. So any pediatrician, any family physician, may be put into a position where they have a patient that brings in a daughter or a son that is suffering from gender dysphoria. And they're asked and forced to place that patient on puberty blockers or, even worse, cross-sex hormones. So many of our members have been very concerned about this since this first came out in 2016. And I'm sure all of them are now feeling very relieved that we have this permanent injunction that's granted to our members.
REICHARD: But do you think the legal battle is really over? What do you see coming down the pike?
BARROWS: We know that the Biden administration has 60 days to appeal this decision. And if they appeal, it will go back to the Fifth Circuit. And we've already had this case before the Fifth Circuit and we received a favorable ruling from them. So we're feeling very hopeful that if in fact the Biden administration should choose to appeal that we would again be victorious at the circuit court level. That is our hope and, of course, our prayer.
REICHARD: Dr. Jeff Barrows with the Christian Medical and Dental Association has been our guest. Dr., thanks so much!
BARROWS: My pleasure, Mary. Good to be with you.
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