Doctors, other medical personnel, and hospitals with faith-based objections to transgender surgeries are celebrating a win against an Obamacare mandate this week as President Joe Biden declined to appeal a ruling to the Supreme Court.
The case, called Sisters of Mercy v. Becerra, is the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty’s second successful challenge of what the organization calls the government’s “harmful and unlawful” mandate forcing doctors and hospitals to provide gender-transition surgeries despite their religious beliefs.
“After multiple defeats in court, the federal government has thrown in the towel on its controversial, medically unsupported transgender mandate,” Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel at Becket, said in a written statement Wednesday.
“Doctors take a solemn oath to ‘do no harm,’ and they can’t keep that oath if the federal government is forcing them to perform harmful, irreversible procedures against their conscience and medical expertise,” Goodrich said.
Sisters of Mercy is a Catholic religious order, and some of the nuns are licensed medical professionals. Becerra is Xavier Becerra, Biden’s secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The Sisters of Mercy case began in 2016 when the Obama administration, through the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, required doctors and hospitals across the country to perform gender-transition surgeries.
The Sisters of Mercy, part of a coalition of Catholic health care providers and universities, sued the federal government to block that mandate. A federal court in North Dakota agreed to stop it the day before Biden took office.
After the Biden administration appealed that ruling, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision in December, safeguarding the right to religious liberty.
The Biden administration had a Tuesday deadline to appeal the 8th Circuit’s decision to the Supreme Court, which it declined to do.
“These religious doctors and hospitals provide vital care to patients in need, including millions of dollars in free and low-cost care to the elderly, poor, and underserved,” Goodrich said. “This is a win for patients, conscience, and common sense.”
Previously, Becket backed a network of faith-based hospitals against a transgender mandate in a 2016 case called Franciscan Alliance v. Becerra.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed in August 2022 that doctors can’t be required to provide medical services that go against their religious beliefs. Biden also declined to appeal that ruling to the Supreme Court.
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