In a December 31 opinion, judge Reed O'Connor of the Northern District of Texas granted a nationwide, preliminary injunction against a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulation that mandates the performance of and insurance coverage for gender transitions - even on children - and abortions, even if they violate the religious or ethical beliefs of the physicians and others involved.
"Plaintiffs claim the rule's interpretation of sex discrimination pressures doctors to deliver healthcare in a manner that violates their religious freedom and thwarts their independent medical judgment and will require burdensome changes to their health insurance plans on January 1, 2017", U.S. District Court Judge Reed O'Connor wrote in his ruling. ' The new rule was set to go into effect at the beginning of the year. O'Connor's decision blocked a critical regulation enacted pursuant to the Affordable Care Act, which forbade doctors from discriminating against transgender patients or women who've previously had abortions. Similar to the Left's successful move to utterly redefine the term "marriage" to include same-sex unions, Obama's Department of Health and Human Services has sought to apply similar tactics in its "Social Justice™" crusade to redefine gender. "The ruling ensures that doctors' best medical judgment will not be replaced with political agendas and bureaucratic interference".
But Young said the impact could be damaging to transgender people seeking care, who for years have faced denial of insurance benefits or access to doctors they chose due to their gender identity.
The court order, brought by the states of Texas, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Kansas, Louisiana, Arizona, Kentucky, and MS, along with three Christian-affiliated groups, stated that the Health and Human Services department's regulations prohibiting doctors from discriminating on the basis of gender identity, or against women seeking abortions, violated practitioners' religious freedom.
The provision guarantees patients access to reproductive services like abortion care and sterilization at any health-care facility, including for religious and religiously affiliated providers.
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This is not the first time O'Connor has ruled in favor of Texas in recent months.
"Judge O'Connor's conclusion that transgender people and persons who have had abortions are somehow excepted from protection is deeply troubling, legally specious, and morally repugnant", Ezra Young, director of impact litigation at the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, told the Detroit News. O'Connor said the plaintiffs had sufficient reason to fear the law would result in religious discrimination.
In August, O'Connor issued a nationwide injunction halting enforcement of the Obama administration's schools guidance because he found it was not permitted under Title IX.
That lawsuit centered on a federal directive requiring schools to let transgender students use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity.