CV NEWS FEED // The Biden administration this week handed a victory to religious freedom advocates by allowing a 2022 court ruling against the so-called “transgender mandate” stand rather than appealing it to the Supreme Court.
In 2022, a federal court overturned the 2016 government mandate compelling doctors and hospitals to perform “gender-transition” surgeries against their religious beliefs or professional judgment. On Wednesday, the Biden administration let the time limit expire for appealing that ruling before the high court.
The federal government reinterpreted the Affordable Care Act under Obama’s administration in 2016, forcing doctors and hospitals to perform “transgender” surgeries, including on children. The mandate required doctors to perform the surgeries even if it went against their religious beliefs or their professional medical judgment.
The November 2016 North Dakota case Sisters of Mercy v. Becerra marked the second time a federal appeals court has blocked Obama’s 2016 mandate. This week was also the second time the Biden administration has chosen not to appeal a key ruling before the Supreme Court. The first case was Franciscan Alliance v. Becerra, which was filed in August 2016 in Texas.
In 2016, the Sisters of Mercy, an order devoted to providing healthcare to the underprivileged, filed a lawsuit appealing the mandate. Some sisters are licensed healthcare professionals and the order also operates a small nonprofit clinic. The Sisters appealed to the federal court because the new mandate went against their religious beliefs.
Though two different courts ruled that the mandate was a violation of religious freedom, the case was put on hold until 2020, then blocked by other courts. The mandate was not struck down until 2021. The Biden administration appealed the decision, but the Eighth Circuit permanently overturned the mandate in 2022.
The Biden administration did not appeal to the Supreme Court by this past Wednesday’s deadline.
“After multiple defeats in court, the federal government has thrown in the towel on its controversial, medically unsupported transgender mandate,” said Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel at Becket Law. Becket is the firm that represented the Sisters of Mercy and the Franciscans.
“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 continued:
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. This is a win for patients, conscience, and common sense.