Letting Christians do no harm
Court blocks controversial transgender mandate
A Texas federal court on Monday blocked a Biden administration policy that would have forced doctors and hospitals to perform gender transition procedures and abortions against their religious convictions.
The transgender mandate has had a troubled road since the Obama administration first instituted it. U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor previously blocked it in 2019, and a North Dakota federal court struck it down in January of this year. Trump administration HHS officials revised the rule in 2019 to protect conscience rights, but a court blocked the change. The Biden administration is committed to transgender rights and signaled earlier this year it would enforce the Obama-era version of the rule.
O’Connor, a George W. Bush appointee, concluded in Monday’s ruling the HHS rule violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a 1993 federal law that requires the government to show a compelling interest and use the least restrictive means if it substantially burdens religious freedom. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced the legislation when he was a representative from New York. O’Connor wrote that the mandate threatened to burden Christian religious exercise “in the form of fines and civil liability, to perform and provide insurance coverage for gender-transition procedures and abortions.”
The order means the government can’t impose fines or penalties on medical professionals or withdraw federal funding from hospitals for refusing to conduct the controversial procedures. But it only covers the particular parties to the case: Franciscan Alliance, a Catholic hospital network in Indiana and Illinois, and the Christian Medical & Dental Associations and their 19,000 members.
The ruling will likely not end the matter, as the Biden administration appears committed to expanding transgender and abortion even over religious objections. Just last week the administration’s Justice Department abandoned its defense of a Vermont nurse who objected to participating in an elective abortion.
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