Judge Stops Sex-Change Obamacare Regulation
By NBP Staff | December 31, 2016, 23:23 EST
A federal judge in Texas has blocked a new federal regulation that might have forced doctors to perform sex-change operations and abortions, hours before the measure was going to take effect.
On Saturday, December 31, the judge issued a temporary injunction preventing enforcement of the regulation, which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had issued in connection with Obamacare.
The rule was scheduled to take effect Sunday, January 1, the beginning of the new year.
The federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, forbids discrimination on the basis of sex, which refers to maleness and femaleness. But the federal agency that implements Obamacare issued a regulation forbidding discrimination on the basis of gender identity, which includes biological males who identify as something other than male and biological females who identify as something other than female.
The federal regulation defines “gender identity” as “an individual’s internal sense of gender, which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female, and which may be different from an individual’s sex assigned at birth.”
The regulation also states that “gender identity spectrum includes an array of possible gender identities beyond male and female.”
The regulation also forbids discriminating on the basis of “termination of pregnancy,” meaning abortion.
A Catholic health care system and a nonprofit organization of Catholic doctors challenged the regulation in federal court in August.
The Catholic hospital system, Franciscan Alliance, headquartered in Mishawaka, Indiana, argued the regulation would require it to provide health insurance for sex-change operations and abortions. The Catholic doctors organization, Specialty Physicians of Illinois, argued its members would be forced to perform those procedures if the regulation were enforced.
The Roman Catholic Church teaches that sex-change operations and abortions are immoral.
Other plaintiffs include Christian Medical & Dental Association, a nonprofit organization in Illinois; and the states of Texas, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Kentucky, and Kansas.
Judge Reed O’Connor of the U.S. District Court for Northern Texas issued the injunction Saturday afternoon.
The plaintiffs’ lawsuit was filed by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a nonprofit law firm in Washington D.C. that defends clients who claim their religious liberty is threatened. The firm is also known as Becket Law.
The original complaint argued that the new regulation could affect children who show signs of identifying as other than their biological sex.
“This is a common-sense ruling: The government has no business forcing private doctors to perform procedures on children that the government itself recognizes can be harmful and exempts its own doctors from performing,” said Lori Windham, senior counsel at Becket Law, in a written statement. “Today’s ruling ensures that doctors’ best medical judgment will not be replaced with political agendas and bureaucratic interference.”
A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services could not immediately be reached for comment.
The ruling stops the regulation for the time being.
The future of the regulation is unclear. The Obama Administration has less than three weeks in office. President-elect Donald Trump, whose inauguration is scheduled for January 20, has promised to scrap Obamacare.