Courts deliver blow to Biden admin, side with Catholic docs on transgender surgeries

In a win for religious liberty, a federal court ruled against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and their efforts to force Catholic doctors to “violate their consciences” when it comes to genital mutilation.

The endless effort of progressives to administrate a path to their objectives hit a major roadblock Friday when the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit found in favor of the Religious Sisters of Mercy. The Catholic organization, joined with others including the Catholic Benefits Association, had challenged HHS, HHS secretary Xavier Becerra as well as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and chair Charlotte Burrows for their interpretation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

In the ruling from Judge Lavenski R. Smith, and joined by Judges Raymond Gruender and Jonathan Kobes, the court found the ACA, better known as Obamacare, could not be used to force religious doctors and organizations to perform any kind of gender-transition procedure. Smith wrote in part, “We agree with these courts and therefore conclude that the district court correctly held that ‘intrusion upon the Catholic Plaintiffs’ exercise of religion is sufficient to show irreparable harm.'”

Speaking on behalf of his clients, senior counsel Luke Goodrich, vice president of Becket Law, expressed, “The federal government has no business forcing doctors to violate their consciences or perform controversial procedures that could permanently harm their patients,”

“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,” he went on. “The government’s attempt to force doctors to go against their consciences was bad for patients, bad for doctors, and bad for religious liberty.”

As it happened, HHS and the EEOC had attempted to use Section 1557 of the ACA described by Smith as providing, “in relevant part, that a federally funded or administered health program or activity is prohibited from denying benefits to, or subjecting to discrimination, an individual ‘on [a] ground prohibited under…title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972…Section 1557 vests the Secretary of HHS with discretion to promulgate implementing regulations.”

Becket had also represented the plaintiffs in Franciscan Alliance v. Becerra which sued over the same mandate, winning their case in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in August.

“All the plaintiffs in these cases joyfully serve transgender patients for everything from cancer to the common cold,” Goodrich told the Washington Examiner. “It’s just that certain gender transition procedures they believe based on strong medical evidence can actually be deeply harmful to their patients.”

President Joe Biden’s administration now has a reported 45 days to seek a hearing from the Eight Circuit and up to 90 days to file an appeal to the Supreme Court. However, Goodrich saw these as unlikely scenarios, “I doubt the Biden administration is going to pursue either of those avenues.”

As he saw it, “these rulings were on very solid grounds, very strong rulings. It’s kinda hard to even debate that these rulings are wrong.”

Kevin Haggerty


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