Saturday, January 23, 2021 : By Nathan Skates
This week a North Dakota federal court blocked the “transgender mandate” which requires medical professionals and religious organizations to perform and pay for gender transition procedures. The court decision is even more significant considering the Biden administration’s aggressive advocacy for transgender rights.
In Religious Sisters of Mercy v. Azar, an order of Catholic nuns along with a Catholic university and a coalition of Catholic healthcare organizations and clinics sued the federal government challenging the transgender mandate. The mandate requires medical professionals to perform gender transition procedures despite religious objections and also requires organizations to cover the procedures in insurance plans. A North Dakota federal court granted injunctive relief, blocking the mandate.
The transgender mandate is part of the Affordable Care Act and requires medical professionals to perform gender transition procedures, not only in violation of their religious beliefs, but in violation of their medical judgment and the Hippocratic Oath.
The plaintiffs were represented by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which argued that
“sensitive medical decisions should be kept between patients and their doctors without government interference, and that no one should be required by law to disregard their conscience or their professional medical judgment.”
District Court Judge Peter D. Welte agreed, writing,
“Absent an injunction, they [those subject to the mandate] will either be ‘forced to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs’ by performing and covering gender-transition procedures ‘or to incur severe monetary penalties for refusing to comply.’” He added, “An injunction will also advance the public interest because the protection of constitutional rights is ‘always in the public interest.’”
Becket senior counsel Luke Goodrich responded to the decision by stating:
“Now more than ever, Americans are grateful for the sacrifices of our medical professionals who serve on the front lines and use their training and expertise to serve the vulnerable. The court’s decision recognizes our medical heroes’ right to practice medicine in line with their conscience and without politically motivated interference from government bureaucrats.”
The transgender mandate is supposedly about preventing discrimination against transgenders, but as sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) laws tend to do, they end up discriminating against people of faith.
The court’s decision takes place as the Biden administration takes over and pushes to make the transgender agenda a priority. As California’s Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, Biden’s choice to lead the Department for Health and Human Services (HHS), filed a brief supporting the use of taxpayer funding to cover “gender-affirming treatment and gender dysphoria.” The brief claimed that denying coverage for these procedures puts “people at risk by denying them treatment known to improve their physical and mental health.”
Biden also chose Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Rachel Levine, who is transgender, to serve as assistant secretary of health at HHS.
“These religious doctors and hospitals provide top-notch medical care to all patients for everything from cancer to the common cold. All they’re asking is that they be allowed to continue serving their patients as they’ve done for decades, without being forced to perform controversial, medically unsupported procedures that are against their religious beliefs and potentially harmful to their patients. The Constitution and federal law require no less.”
The court’s decision protects the foundational right of religious liberty by affirming that people of faith do not have to financially pay for or perform procedures that violate their beliefs. The transgender mandate shows a commitment to leftist ideology rather than science, forcing medical professionals to go against their judgment and perform harmful procedures, violating their oath.
Over the next four years, there will likely be a battle between the executive branch and the courts over whether to protect religious freedoms or to require that all submit to the ideology of LGBT activists. Let’s hope the Constitution’s affirmation of the inalienable right to religious freedom and conscience prevails.