The Biden administration filed an appeal Tuesday that seeks to force doctors and hospitals to perform transgender surgeries regardless of religious or conscientious objections.
The lawsuit was filed by Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and it attempts to overturn a recent court ruling against the Obama administration’s transgender mandate.
In 2016, the Obama administration attached a transgender mandate to the Affordable Care Act requiring doctors and hospitals to perform ‘sex-change’ surgeries and provide insurance coverage for this procedure for any patient upon the referral of a mental healthcare professional. The mandate does not include religious or conscientious objections, trampling upon religious freedom guarantees.
More than 19,000 healthcare professionals, nine states and several religious organizations challenged the mandate in two lawsuits, and in December 2016, two federal courts placed an injunction on the mandate. In 2019 and 2020, two more federal district court judges ruled against the mandate. And in an ongoing case against the mandate, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on April 15 sent the case back to a lower court, instructing that the district court decide whether the mandate could be permanently stopped.
“This is bad for patients, doctors, and religious liberty,” Luke Goodrich, Becket Fund senior counsel, said about the Biden administration’s appeal.
“The Biden Admin says it can punish doctors and hospitals for ‘sex discrimination’ unless they perform controversial gender-transition procedures,” he added. “The Transgender Mandate not only threatens religious doctors and hospitals. It also threatens patients, as there is ample evidence that certain gender transition procedures can be deeply harmful.”
Urging people to pray about the situation, Franklin Graham posted on Facebook: “Pray that this move will be stopped and Christian medical personnel will not be stripped of their First Amendment rights as they try to serve and keep their oath to ‘do no harm’ to patients.”
The appeal is the latest of several assaults on religious freedom launched by the Biden administration in recent weeks.