2 Federal Courts Block Biden's HHS from Forcing Doctors to Perform Abortions, Gender Transition Procedures
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There have been a series of wins for religious freedom in the ongoing legal battle over the Biden administration's Transgender Mandate.
In Texas, a federal district court issued an order Wednesday blocking the administration's attempt to force emergency room doctors to perform abortions even if doing so violates their conscience or religious beliefs.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys represented the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) and the Christian Medical and Dental Associations (CMDA) in State of Texas v. Becerra.
The ADF asked the court to halt the administration from employing the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act to force doctors to provide elective abortions in emergency rooms while their lawsuit proceeds. The court agreed.
"That Guidance goes well beyond EMTALA's text, which protects both mothers and unborn children, is silent as to abortion, and preempts state law only when the two directly conflict," the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Lubbock Division, wrote in its opinion. "AAPLOG and CMDA's members face a substantial threat of enforcement and severe penalties for their inevitable violation of the Guidance's requirements with regards to abortion."
The injunction applies in Texas and to the members of AAPLOG and CMDA.
"Emergency room physicians can, and do, treat ectopic pregnancies and other life-threatening conditions. Elective abortion is not life-saving care—it ends the life of the unborn—and the government can't force doctors to perform procedures that violate their conscience and religious beliefs," said ADF Senior Counsel Denise Harle, director of the ADF Center for Life.
The court also noted the state of Texas and the two groups of pro-life physicians are likely to prevail in their case against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Federal Appeals Court Says 'No' to Gender Transition Procedures
Meanwhile, on Friday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the Biden administration mandate forcing doctors to perform gender transition treatments.
A Catholic health care alliance had already won a permanent injunction on religious freedom grounds against a 2016 rule requiring them to provide such procedures.
The Biden administration's HHS attempted to renew the rule, citing a different court ruling, but the three-judge panel has 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."
The court explained that while the government argued it should get more chances to show why it needed religious healthcare providers to participate in gender-transition procedures, other cases showed that permanent protection was appropriate—including, ironically, cases brought by the ACLU, who had intervened in Franciscan to support the government.
"This ruling is a major victory for conscience rights and compassionate medical care in America," said Joseph Davis, counsel at Becket, a religious liberty law firm. "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."
As CBN News has reported, this is not the first time federal courts have ruled against the mandate. The Obama administration first issued the mandate as a part of the Affordable Care Act, trying to force members of the healthcare community nationwide to violate their medical judgment and religious beliefs.
Nine states and a group of religious organizations sued and won protection in federal courts in North Dakota and Texas.
Transgender Mandates Crippling for Christian-Owned Businesses
As CBN News reported in May, the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota also issued an injunction in a lawsuit filed by ADF attorneys on behalf of the nonprofit Christian Employers Alliance (CEA) temporarily halting the enforcement of two Biden administration transgender mandates.
The mandates would force both non-profit and for-profit religious employers and healthcare providers to pay for and perform surgeries, procedures, counseling, and treatments that seek to alter a patient's biological sex even if such actions violate the employers' or providers' religious beliefs.
The court found that CEA is likely to prevail in its suit and therefore issued the order halting enforcement of the transgender mandates against CEA while the lawsuit proceeds.
As CBN News first reported last October, the CEA lawsuit argues that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is misinterpreting and improperly enforcing discrimination based on sex in Title VII to force religious employers to pay for and provide health insurance coverage for such surgeries and procedures.
Additionally, the lawsuit challenges the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reinterpretation of "sex" in federal law to include gender identity. That HHS redefinition of "sex" forces religious healthcare providers who receive federal funding to physically perform or facilitate surgeries and procedures that conflict with their deeply held beliefs.
"No government agency ought to be in the business of evaluating the sincerity of another's religious beliefs," the court wrote in its order in Christian Employers Alliance v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
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