President Joe Biden’s administration filed an appeal this week that keeps a mandate in place that requires religious doctors and hospitals to provide sex-change surgeries.
The “transgender mandate,” first issued under The Obama administration in 2016, used a nondiscrimination provision in the Affordable Care Act to require doctors and hospitals to give sex-change surgeries to any and all patients, including children, as long as a mental health professional recommended the procedure.
The mandate also required almost all private insurance companies to provide coverage for the procedures, and did not allow for religious exemptions.
The mandate has since faced resistance from health professionals and has also been caught up in the legal system. In January, a North Dakota judge sided with a group of Catholic hospitals and ruled that the mandate “violates their sincerely held religious beliefs without satisfying strict scrutiny under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”
But this week, the Biden administration appealed that ruling, according to Luke Goodrich, the vice president and senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the firm representing the Catholic hospitals.
Goodrich explained the decision on Twitter:
The plaintiffs are religious doctors, hospitals, and clinics who joyfully serve ALL patients regardless of sex or gender identity. They routinely provide top-notch care to transgender patients for everything from cancer to the common cold.
They also provide millions of dollars in free and low-cost care to the elderly, poor, and underserved–care that is jeopardized by the government’s attempt to punish them with multi-million dollar penalties.
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.
Multiple federal courts have reached the same conclusion: “There is no medical consensus that sex reassignment surgery is a necessary or even effective treatment for gender dysphoria.” Gibson v. Collier, 920 F.3d 212, 223 (5th Cir. 2019).
The government’s own doctors during the Obama Admin agreed: “Based on a thorough review of the clinical evidence . . . there is not enough evidence to determine whether gender reassignment surgery improves health outcomes for [patients] with gender dysphoria.
And just weeks ago, a study commissioned by NHS England found “very low” evidence for the effectiveness of “puberty blockers” and cross-sex hormones.
The Biden Admin shouldn’t have appealed. But we look forward to another ruling that protects patients, aligns with current medical research, and ensures doctors aren’t forced to violate their religious beliefs and professional medical judgment.
Since taking office earlier this year, Biden has made promoting pro-transgender policies a central theme of his presidency. He once called transgender discrimination “the civil rights issue of our time.”
In January, Biden made history by appointing a transgender nominee, Rachel Levine, to serve as his assistant secretary of health.
Biden also signed an executive order that demands schools to allow transgender athletes to compete in women’s sports. The White House later defended the order, arguing that Biden’s belief is that “trans rights are human rights.”