Federal Judge Blocks Obamacare Transgender Surgeries

News: US News
by Stefan Farrar  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  January 5, 2017   

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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (ChurchMilitant.com) - A federal court has blocked an Obamacare regulation forcing Catholic hospitals to provide sex change surgery.

Lori Windham, senior counsel for the Becket Fund, a legal organization which advocates for religious liberty, remarked, "This court ruling is an across-the-board victory that will ensure that deeply personal medical decisions, such as gender transition procedures, remain between families and their doctor."

In his decision, Judge Reed O'Connor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas wrote, "Plaintiffs will be forced to either violate their religious beliefs or maintain their current policies, which seem to be in direct conflict with the rule and risk the severe consequences of enforcement."

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulation would have required Catholic health providers to provide any and all services related to gender transition, including hormonal treatments, counseling and surgery.

The Becket Fund brought suit against the federal government on behalf of the Franciscan Alliance and the Christian Medical and Dental Association.

Mara Keisling, executive director for the National Center for Transgender Equality, commented, "The order does not change the fact that federal law bans gender-based discrimination. Transgender people who are turned away when they are sick, injured, or otherwise need health care, or are denied insurance coverage they've earned or paid for can still seek legal redress in the courts."

In response, Windham remarked, "[The government] has no business forcing private doctors to perform procedures that the government itself recognizes can be harmful, particularly to children, and that the government exempts its own doctors from performing."

In his ruling, O'Connor wrote,

The government's usage of the term sex in the years since Title IX's enactment bolsters the conclusion that its common meaning in 1972 and 2010 referred to the binary, biological differences between males and females. Prior to the passage of the ACA in 2010 and for more than forty years after the passage of Title IX in 1972, no federal court or agency had concluded sex should be defined to include gender identity.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who also joined in the suit against the HHS regulation, commented, "This striking example of federal overreach under Obamacare would force many doctors, hospitals and other health care providers in Texas to participate in sex-reassignment surgeries and treatments, even if it violates their best medical judgment or their religious beliefs."

The states of Kentucky, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Kansas also joined in the suit.

White House spokeswoman Katie Hill remarked, "Today's decision is a setback, but hopefully a temporary one, since all Americans — regardless of their sex, gender identity or sexual orientation — should have access to quality, affordable health care free from discrimination."

The official statement from Texas Attorney General Paxton's office reads, "The Obama administration is attempting to redefine the law so that the term 'sex' means one's 'internal sense of gender which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female,' even though the president lacks the authority to rewrite the law."

The Catholic Church has spoken out strongly against the notion that one can change or choose one's gender. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, "Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his or her sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life."

In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI said, "People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, which serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves."

Pope Francis has also condemned transgenderism. In his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si, he wrote,

The acceptance of our bodies as God's gift is vital for welcoming and accepting the entire world as a gift from the Father and our common home, whereas thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation.

During a meeting with Polish bishops at World Youth Day 2016, the Holy Father excoriated gender ideology. "Today, schools are teaching children — children! — that everyone can choose their own sex," he said. "And why is this being taught? Because their textbooks are chosen by the people and institutions that give money. This is ideological colonization, promoted by very influential nations. This is terrible."

Pope Francis also commented on a conversation he had with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. "Speaking with Pope Benedict, who is well, and has a clear mind, he was telling me: Holiness, this is the epoch of sin against God the Creator. He's intelligent! God created man and woman, God created the world this way, and we are doing the opposite."


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