Federal Court Knocks Down Transgender Medical Rule

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by David Nussman  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  October 16, 2019   

Ruling reverses 2016 mandate by Health and Human Services

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FORT WORTH, Texas (ChurchMilitant.com) - Doctors cannot be required to perform transgender surgeries, a federal judge in Texas ruled Tuesday.

Tuesday's ruling reverses the 2016 mandate by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which would have required doctors to perform sex reassignment procedures.

One of the organizations pushing against the transgender mandate was Catholic medical group Franciscan Alliance. Representing the case against the mandate in the Texas federal court was the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

In December 2016, just two months after HHS issued the mandate, two separate federal courts determined that the policy was likely an overrreach and a violation of religious liberty.

Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel at Becket, explained that the decision in 2016 simply put the mandate on hold due to concerns about the mandate's legality.

"The 2016 ruling was what's called a preminary injunction," Goodrich told Church Militant on Wednesday. He said in contrast, "Yesterday's ruling was the case playing out."

Those who opposed the transgender mandate, Goodrich explained, believed that performing transgender procedures would violate the Hippocratic Oath. "Every doctor takes an oath to do no harm," Goodrich remarked, "and there's ample evidence that these procedures can be harmful."

"It is critically important that doctors are able to continue serving patients in keeping with their consciences and their professional medical judgment, especially when it comes to the personal health choices of families and children," Goodrich said in a statement.

He added, "Doctors cannot do their jobs if government bureaucrats are trying to force them to perform potentially harmful procedures that violate their medical and moral judgment."

The judge behind Tuesday's ruling was Reed O'Connor of the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Texas.

Every doctor takes an oath to do no harm, and there's ample evidence that these procedures can be harmful.

The Becket Fund has argued that the transgender mandate would be harmful to children. A chart produced by the Becket Fund indicates that somewhere between 73% and 94% of children who report gender confusion "will grow out of it naturally."

Goodrich has a book that will be rolling out later this month, titled Free to Believe: the Battle Over Religious Liberty in America. He said that one segment of the book discusses the threats to religious liberty today, noting that they often fall under the banners of "anti-discrimination laws," "aggressive endorsement of abortion" and "gay rights."

The book, he told Church Militant, emphasizes the importance of  being "willing to follow your conscience, even when it hurts." 

Goodrich also said the book argues that religious liberty is not just something "practical" for Christians, but a part of "Biblical justice," adding that it includes religious liberty for America's "minority religions" as well.

The Becket Fund represented the Little Sisters of the Poor when the female religious order objected to the Obama administration's HHS contraception mandate. Becket was also legal counsel for the owners of Hobby Lobby in a similar lawsuit.

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