Appeals court halts federal rule forcing religious doctors to perform gender transitions
A federal appeals court on Friday halted a rule from the Department of Health and Human Services that would force doctors with conscientious objections to perform gender transition surgeries.
In 2016, HHS put forward a rule that determined that religious hospitals were subject to non-discrimination provisions under the Affordable Care Act and that would require them to perform gender transitions. Said mandate would require doctors to perform such surgeries on any patient, including minors, even should the physician believe the procedure would harm the patient.
A coalition of Catholic hospitals, along with other organizations connected to the Roman Catholic faith, sued the administration on grounds that the mandate would force them to violate their religious beliefs.
A three judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court decision in Sisters of Mercy v. Becerra that the federal transgender surgery mandate's "intrusion upon the Catholic Plaintiffs’ exercise of religion is sufficient to show irreparable harm."
Becket Law, a religious freedom group representing the Catholic plaintiffs, celebrated the ruling.
"Today’s victory sets an important precedent that religious healthcare professionals are free to practice medicine in accordance with their consciences and experienced professional judgment," Becket senior counsel Luke Goodrich said in a press release. "The government’s attempt to force doctors to go against their consciences was bad for patients, bad for doctors, and bad for religious liberty."
The administration has 45 days to ask the 8th Circuit to rehear the case or 90 days to appeal to the Supreme Court. The federal mandate is already on hold due to a separate ruling in Franciscan Alliance v. Becerra wherein the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals also blocked its implementation. Becket is representing the challengers in that case as well.