A federal appeals court has ruled that the Biden administration cannot force doctors and hospitals to perform so-called “sex-change” procedures which may go against their conscience and best medical judgement.
The unanimous opinion was issued by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
“Franciscan Alliance seeks relief from HHS’s threat to prosecutive hospitals that refuse to perform gender-reassignment surgeries and abortions,” the court said.
In agreeing with a lower district court siding against the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) mandate, the Fifth Circuit ruled, “The judgement of the district court is AFFIRMED.”
The opinion sustained the district court’s order “permanently enjoining [HHS] from requiring Franciscan Alliance to perform gender-reassignment surgeries or abortions in violation of its sincerely held religion beliefs.”
The opinion by the appeals court was written by Judge Don Willett, a nominee of former President Donald Trump. He was joined by Trump-appointed Judge Kurt Engelhardt and Judge Jennifer Elrod, a nominee of former President George W. Bush.
“This ruling is a major victory for conscience rights and compassionate medical care in America,” said Joseph Davis, counsel at Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
“Doctors cannot do their jobs and comply with the Hippocratic Oath if the government requires them to perform harmful, irreversible procedures against their conscience and medical expertise,” Davis added.
The legal battle around HHS’ rule seeking to force doctors and hospitals to perform “sex-change” procedures (hereafter Transgender Mandate) began back in 2016.
That year, the HHS issued the Transgender Mandate with no exceptions for those who disagree with the procedures on religious or medical grounds.
Following its issuance, “an association of over 19,000 healthcare professionals, eight states, and two religious hospitals challenged the mandate in” federal court.
After the district court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in December 2016, the court then granted permanent relief to the doctors and hospitals in another ruling in August 2021.
The Fifth Circuit has now reaffirmed the district court’s ruling.
Under the Transgender Mandate, HHS required doctors to “perform gender transition procedures on any child referred by a mental health professional … The Transgender Mandate also required virtually all private insurance companies and many employers to cover gender transition procedures or face stiff penalties and legal action.”
“For years, our clients have provided excellent medical care to all patients who need it,” Davis added. “Today’s ruling ensures that these doctors and hospitals may continue to do this critical work in accordance with their conscience and professional medical judgment.”
The case is Franciscan Alliance v. Becerra.
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