In January, the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota overturned a Biden administration measure that required physicians to perform gender reassignment surgeries, even if these procedures conflicted with the physician’s conscientious objection or religion. On April 20, the government appealed this ruling.
“The Biden administration just filed an appeal seeking to force religious doctors and hospitals to perform potentially harmful gender transition procedures against their conscience and professional medical judgment,” Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel at BECKET Law, wrote on Twitter. “This is bad for patients, doctors, and religious freedom.”
“The Biden administration says it can punish doctors and hospitals for “sex discrimination” unless they perform controversial gender transition procedures. A court struck down this transgender mandate in January,” Goodrich added in a Twitter thread.
The court to which Goodrich refers is the District Court for the District of North Dakota, which dealt with cases No. 3:16-cv-00386 between The Sisters of Mercy v Alex M. Azar II, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and No. 3:16-ev-00432 between the Catholic Benefit Association and Alex M. Azar II himself.
The conclusion of the ruling clearly reads the setback the Biden administration had in the courts:
“The Court DECLARES that HHS’s interpretation of Section 1557 that requires the Catholic Plaintiffs to perform and provide insurance coverage for gender-transition procedures violates their sincerely held religious beliefs without satisfying strict scrutiny under the RFRA. Accordingly, the Court PERMANENTLY ENJOINS AND RESTRAINS HHS, Secretary Azar, their divisions, bureaus, agents, officers, commissioners, employees, and anyone acting in concert or participation with them, including their successors in office, from interpreting or enforcing Section 1557 of the ACA, 42 U.S.C. § 18116(a), or any implementing regulations thereto against the Catholic Plaintiffs in a manner that would require them to perform or provide insurance coverage for gender-transition procedures, including by denying federal financial assistance because of their failure to perform or provide insurance coverage for such procedures or by otherwise pursuing, charging, or assessing any penalties, fines, assessments, investigations, or other enforcement actions.
Beyond religious freedom
While the case-and the controversy in general-with sex change operations are tied to religious freedom or, failing that, “discrimination” by doctors against trans people, the risk of these procedures also enters the debate.
Luke Goodrich explained in his Twitter thread that the Biden administration’s “Transgender Mandate” “not only threatens religious doctors and hospitals. It also threatens patients, as there is ample evidence that certain gender transition procedures can be deeply harmful.”
The attorney added in his thread several judicial and scientific sources supporting his assertion, such as Gibson v. Collier, 920 F.3d 212, 223 (5th Cir. 2019), taken in federal court, which concluded that ““There is no medical consensus that sex reassignment surgery is a necessary or even effective treatment for gender dysphoria.”
Goodrich also posted on his thread a BBC article citing a study, from a couple of weeks ago, from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on gender dysphoria and puberty blockers.
“Puberty blockers, known scientifically as gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogues, are prescribed to some young people with gender dysphoria – distress caused by a discrepancy between a person’s gender identity (how they see themselves regarding their gender) and their sex at birth,” the BBC reviews.
“The NICE evidence review looked at what impact puberty blockers had on gender dysphoria, mental health – such as depression, anger and anxiety – and quality of life. NICE, which provides national guidance and advice to improve health and social care, said: “The quality of evidence for these outcomes was assessed as very low certainty.” In other words, there is, at least at present, no solid evidence to refute the concerns of doctors and experts who point out the risks of sex change operations. Moreover, there is also no certainty about the supposed positive impacts they have on cases of gender dysphoria.