Catholic Healthcare Providers Can Refuse To Do Gender Surgeries

Catholic healthcare providers received a unanimous victory from a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The decision strikes down the Biden administration's ability to force religious health professionals to perform transgender surgeries.

The three-judge panel upheld a North Dakota federal judge accusing the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) infringing upon religious freedoms. The plaintiffs featured a non-profit located in Alma, Mich. titled the Religious Sisters of Mercy, which help provide healthcare services to underprivileged individuals in the area.

Becket Law is a non-profit public interest law firm based in Washington D.C. which serves to protect the freedom of all faiths. Their Vice President and Senior Counsel Luke Goodrich had high praise for the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in the Becket Law Press release after representing the plaintiffs successfully.

“The federal government has no business forcing doctors to violate their consciences or perform controversial procedures that could permanently harm their patients,” Goodrich said. “This is a common-sense ruling that protects patients, aligns with best medical practice, and ensures doctors can follow their Hippocratic Oath to ‘do no harm.”

Religious healthcare providers also received a victory from a 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in August earlier this year upholding a lower court's permanent order. The decision protected Christian Medical and Dental Associations, Specialty Physicians of Illinois, and Franciscan Alliance Inc. from section Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act passed by the Obama-Biden administration in 2010.

What is section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act?

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (Section 1557), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics), in covered health programs or activities. 42 U.S.C. 18116.

In 2020 during Former President Donald Trump’s administration, the U.S. Supreme Court in Bostock v. Clayton County found discrimination based on gender identity is a form of discrimination on the basis of sex. The case involved multiple individuals who were simply fired from their jobs for being gay and was before the arrival of Trump’s Amy Coney Barrett appointment — creating a conservative majority on the U.S Supreme Court

According to a Merger Watch study from 2016, Catholic hospitals are on the rise. It found 18.5% of hospitals were religiously affiliated, with 9.4% identified as Catholic non-profit hospitals, and 5.1% as Catholic-affiliated hospitals. The research also found significant growth in Catholic hospitals since the turn of the 21st century, highlighting a 22% increase in the number of acute care hospitals that are Catholic owned from 2001 to 2016. However, the same overall number of acute care hospitals dropped by 6% in that same time.

President Biden is a Catholic supporter of trans rights in the U.S. Biden sat with a panel from NowThis News focusing on pressing issues involving Gen-Z and Millennial Americans. One of the panelists, Dylan Mulvaney, is a viral 25-year-old TikTok content creator documenting his transition from male to female.

Mulvaney questioned Biden on his stance regarding gendering-affirming healthcare. Biden cleared his view:

“I don’t think any state or anybody should have the right to do that as a moral question,” Biden said. “As a legal question, I just think it’s wrong.”

Gender-affirming care:

Included the use of hormones to delay puberty and to promote the development of secondary sex characteristics which are consistent with a child’s gender identity. It is suggested for transgender youth by the American Academy of Pediatricians and the Endocrine Society and is viewed by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA) as evidence-based patient care.

The Williams Institute from UCLA has identified actions by states across the U.S. targeting healthcare for transitioning youth. Currently, six states feature penalties for parents who facilitate minors’ access to gender-affirming medical care. Their research found 33% of 150,000 transgender youth (ages 13-17) in the U.S. live in the 15 states that have restricted access to gender-affirming care, or live in states with similar laws pending.

Notably, Arkansas enacted a ban on gender-affirming care for minors, and recently in February Texas restricted access to gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth. Both of these bans on gender-affirming care are currently being challenged in court.

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