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Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Biden Transgender Medical Mandate

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


A federal appeals court has weighed in on a lawsuit involving a Biden administration mandate for doctors regarding transgender surgeries.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Friday unanimously upheld a lower court’s ruling that blocked a rule forcing doctors to perform medical procedures, including gender-transition surgeries and procedures, in violation of their closely held religious beliefs, The Epoch Times reported.

The ruling in Franciscan Alliance v. Becerra “protected around 19,000 health care professionals in Franciscan Alliance, a Catholic health care network, from performing medical procedures against their conscience,” the outlet’s report continued.

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The lower federal court issued a permanent injunction against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “from requiring the Franciscan Alliance to perform gender-transition surgeries or abortions in violation of its sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Lawyers representing the alliance said the federal court noted that mandating permanent protection from the HHS rule was the right thing to do for health care workers.

“This ruling is a major victory for conscience rights and compassionate medical care in America,” said Joseph Davis, counsel at Becket, the firm representing the alliance, noted in a statement“Doctors cannot do their jobs and comply with the Hippocratic Oath if the government requires them to perform harmful, irreversible procedures against their conscience and medical expertise.

“For years, our clients have provided excellent medical care to all patients who need it,” Davis said. “Today’s ruling ensures that these doctors and hospitals may continue to do this critical work in accordance with their conscience and professional medical judgment.”  

The Epoch Times notes further:

The court noted that the Biden administration argued for more chances to show why it needed religious health care providers to participate in gender-transition surgeries, but that the ACLU, a co-appellant, cited a previous case that worked against their argument, according to court documents.

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The mandate was first issued six years ago as part of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. Becket noted that this applied to “virtually every doctor nationwide.”

Section 1557 of Obamacare prohibits health care programs that receive federal funds from discriminating against patients on the basis of sex.

HHS issued the rule in May 2016 to interpret Section 1557’s prohibitions against “discrimination on the basis of sex,” defining it to mean discrimination regarding the reasons for “termination of pregnancy” as well as the contentious concept of “gender identity.”

The Franciscan Alliance in its lawsuit claimed that the rule was a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) as it defined “sex discrimination” inconsistently with Title IX, the statute protecting Americans from being discriminated against based on their sex in education programs receiving federal tax dollars.

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Nine states immediately challenged the rule and were joined by several religious groups, receiving favorable rulings from federal courts in North Dakota and Texas.

“Franciscan Alliance also claimed that the 2016 rule violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) by forcing it to perform abortions and gender-reassignment surgeries inconsistent with its sincerely held religious beliefs,” The Epoch Times reports.

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On its website, the legal firm noted that the Biden administration and the ACLU were “dissatisfied with not being able to force religious health care providers to violate their faith” so both appealed the lower court rulings back to the Fifth Circuit, located in New Orleans.

Since then, the Biden administration has heard accusations of weaponizing Title IX to impose “woke insanity” on the country.

“Six years ago, the federal government issued the mandate as part of the Affordable Care Act and tried to apply it to virtually every doctor nationwide. The requirement would have forced doctors to perform these procedures on any patient, including on children, even if the procedures went against their conscience and professional medical judgment,” the Becket statement added.

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