A federal appeals court on Friday struck down a Biden administration statute that forced doctors to perform medical procedures, including gender-transition procedures, against their religious beliefs.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit unanimously upheld a lower court’s ruling in Franciscan Alliance v. Becerra which protected around 19,000 health care professionals in Franciscan Alliance, a Catholic health care network, from performing medical procedures against their conscience.
The lower court’s ruling had permanently prohibited the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) “from requiring Franciscan Alliance to perform gender-transition surgeries or abortions in violation of its sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Becket, the legal counsel representing Franciscan Alliance, said the court explained that permanent protection from the statute was appropriate for health care workers.
MandateThe mandate was first issued six years ago as part of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. Becket noted that this applied to “virtually every doctor nationwide.”
Section 1557 of Obamacare prohibits health care programs that receive federal funds from discriminating against patients on the basis of sex.
In May 2016, HHS issued a rule interpreting Section 1557’s prohibition of “discrimination on the basis of sex.” It defined sex discrimination to include discrimination on the basis of “termination of pregnancy” and the disputed concept of “gender identity.”
Franciscan Alliance also claimed that the 2016 rule violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) by forcing it to perform abortions and gender-reassignment surgeries inconsistent with its sincerely held religious beliefs.