The largest faith-based professional healthcare association in the U.S. is celebrating a final victory in its federal court case to protect the religious rights of its members. They were fighting a government mandate that would have forced them to perform gender-transition procedures or abortions against their conscience and best medical judgment.
Since 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had pushed a controversial transgender mandate, threatening religious doctors and hospitals with penalties unless they perform gender transitions in violation of their conscience.
As CBN News reported in August, the case of Franciscan Alliance v. Becerra was brought by CMDA, a group of religious hospitals and nine states, and it appeared poised to head to the U.S. Supreme Court after a unanimous victory from the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
On Friday, the Biden administration gave up on seeking a Supreme Court review of that case. The legal victory for religious liberty now stands as a powerful precedent nationwide.
Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel at Becket, tweeted: "Great news! The Biden Admin's transgender mandate--requiring doctors and hospitals to perform gender transitions against conscience and best medical judgment--has been struck down. AND the Admin has declined to appeal to #SCOTUS--meaning this win is FINAL."
Great news! The Biden Admin's transgender mandate--requiring doctors and hospitals to perform gender transitions against conscience and best medical judgment--has been struck down. AND the Admin has declined to appeal to #SCOTUS--meaning this win is FINAL https://t.co/43RjyvTvyv
— Luke Goodrich (@LukeWGoodrich) November 28, 2022
A related case is currently pending in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. As CBN News reported in January of 2021, a federal court in North Dakota struck down the federal transgender mandate in the case of the Sisters of Mercy and several religious organizations against the provision of the Affordable Care Act. The Biden administration appealed the ruling to the Eighth Circuit. The 11-judge panel is expected to release its decision in the coming weeks.
Goodrich also tweeted the fight is not over due to that remaining Eighth Circuit case.
"The ruling was a successful step in the fight to protect doctors' conscience rights. The fight continues in the Eighth Circuit, where we expect a ruling soon," he wrote.
The ruling was a successful step in the fight to protect doctors' conscience rights. The fight continues in the Eighth Circuit, where we expect a ruling soon.
— Luke Goodrich (@LukeWGoodrich) November 28, 2022
As CBN News has reported, back in 2016, former President Barack Obama's administration issued a mandate that applied to nearly every doctor in the country — interpreting the Affordable Care Act to require them to perform gender transition procedures on any patient, including children, even if the doctor believed the procedure could harm the patient. Doctors who refused to violate their medical judgment would face severe consequences, including financial penalties and private lawsuits.
The Biden administration's HHS attempted to renew the rule.
"It would have required doctors to perform gender transitions on any patient, including children," Goodrich explained. "The medical professionals that challenged the mandate happily serve all patients, regardless of sex or gender identity. But they can't perform these procedures, which are widely disputed in the medical community. Many see the procedures as physically harmful with no psychological benefits—especially when performed on children."
"This key legal battle is a hard-fought victory that impacts and protects the rights of healthcare professionals across this country," said CMDA CEO Mike Chupp, MD, FACS. "After more than six years of fighting this case in federal court, we have now set a national precedent and ensured we can continue to provide the best and safest care to our patients."
Federal Appeals Court Unanimously Said 'No' to Forcing Doctors to Violate Their Religious Beliefs
As CBN News reported in August, a Catholic healthcare alliance had already won a permanent injunction on religious freedom grounds against the 2016 mandate.
In its effort to renew the mandate, the Biden administration's HHS cited a different court ruling, but the three-judge panel at the Fifth Circuit blocked it.
In Franciscan Alliance v Becerra, the federal appeals court ruled the Catholic healthcare network and a group of nearly 19,000 healthcare professionals cannot be required to carry out these procedures in violation of their deeply held beliefs and professional medical judgment.
In the unanimous ruling, the judges affirmed the lower court's order "permanently enjoining HHS from requiring Franciscan Alliance to perform gender-reassignment surgeries or abortions in violation of its sincerely held religious beliefs."
"No one should be forced to violate their conscience or sincere religious beliefs," said CMDA Senior Vice President of Bioethics and Public Policy Jeffrey Barrows, who is an OB/Gyn. "Most importantly, each patient we treat is better off when healthcare professionals who are motivated by their convictions are free to provide quality care without being forced to check those convictions at the door."
Biden Admin Goes All-In on Trans Procedures for Kids as UK Embraces Opposite Idea
As President Biden and the U.S. government continue touting transgender treatments for minors, the U.K. is reportedly retreating from such measures, with new guidance revealing a stunning reversal.
As CBN News reported last month, the U.K.'s National Health Service announced it would be shutting down its state-run youth gender-transition clinic, following a report identifying the risks from its "unquestioning affirmative approach."
And just last week, The New York Times highlighted the "emerging evidence of potential harm" from the "puberty blockers" that are typically prescribed as the first step to gender transition, noting they can lead to dangerously low bone density and commit children to the transition path, even if they would desist without intervention.
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