Trump Rolls Back Trans Rights in Obamacare

by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  August 14, 2017   

New measure will protect Christian doctors' conscience rights to refuse sex change surgeries and abortions

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WASHINGTON ( - The Trump administration is countering Obamacare regulations that had forced doctors to perform sex change services and forced insurers to cover those costs along with those associated with abortions.

The Department of Justice (DOJ), headed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is saying new regulations from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will soon nullify a 2016 rule from the Obama administration that mandated doctors must provide sex change surgery and hormone therapy to those suffering from gender dysphoria. The previous ruling buried in Obamacare had further mandated insurers cover the costs of not only sex change services but also those of abortions as well.

Obama's so-called transgender health mandate was put on hold by a Texas judge last December after it was challenged by five states, including Texas, as well as the Franciscan Alliance, a group of Catholic hospitals. United States District Judge Reed O'Connor found the interpretation illegal, as it wrongly understood sex discrimination to include "discrimination on the basis of gender identity," which he said was rightly understood to mean "discrimination on the basis of the biological differences between males and females." The judge ruled that the former rule was also illegal "because it does not incorporate certain statutory exemptions concerning religion and abortion."

The White House declined in May to appeal the ruling by Judge Reed. This case is highly reminiscent of the Trump administration's decision in February not to appeal an injunction also issued by Judge Reed that stopped Obama's transgender bathroom mandate.

The action by the DOJ and HHS comes on the heels of Trump's announcement that he's banning transgender individuals from serving in the military.

The DOJ said August 4 that it's in the process of reviewing an HHS regulation expected to grant conscience exemptions for doctors who would refuse to perform sex change procedures on so-called transgenders. The new regulation would also allow insurance companies to opt out of footing the bill for these practices they hold to be immoral. Left-leaning advocacy groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Lambda Legal, a pro-LGBT group, are up in arms.

The old rule never had a legal leg to stand on.

Lambda attorney, Sasha Buchert, promises they'll fight the new ruling. "We are deeply concerned, said Buchert. "DOJ has already shown its hand ... [W]e stand ready to respond." Joshua Block, a senior attorney for ACLU, is also adamant in resisting the anticipated rule. "I don't think they [HHS] are going to have an easy time ... and we'll make sure they hear every objection.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represented the Franciscan Alliance in their successful fight against Obama's transgender mandate, remarked they weren't surprised the Trump administration was backing away from the previous rule: "The old rule never had a legal leg to stand on. [T]he government has no business forcing doctors to violate their medical judgment and perform harmful gender transition procedures on children."


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