Judge Rules Obamacare Transgender, Abortion Protections Violate Religious Freedom

Healthcare advocate groups and supporters protest during a rally themed, "Our Lives On the Line: A Rally to Protect Our Healthcare," to demonstrate against the attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, in Los Angeles, California, on July 29, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read …
MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty

A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that Obamacare’s special protections for transgender individuals and women who choose to have abortions violate religious freedom.

Judge Reed O’Connor of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, a George W. Bush appointee, overturned the protections by vacating the Obama-era rule that banned health insurers and providers who receive federal taxpayer funds from denying coverage or treatment to any individual based on sex, gender identity, or termination of pregnancy.

As the Hill noted, Reed is the same judge who ruled last December that Obamacare in its entirety is unconstitutional.

In January 2017 – in a challenge to the rule brought by the Franciscan Alliance – a federal court issued a nationwide injunction against enforcement of Obamacare regulations that refer to gender identity and termination of pregnancy.

The plaintiffs argued the regulations would require physicians to perform procedures that would force them to violate their deeply held faith beliefs.

They further argued that the definition of sex should be the indisputable biological differences between males and females as acknowledged at or prior to birth, rather than a definition fabricated by transgender ideology. The plaintiffs also said the Obamacare regulations would require healthcare providers to perform or refer patients for abortion services in order to avoid sex discrimination on the basis of termination of pregnancy.

The injunction prohibited the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from enforcing some of Obamacare’s requirements as they pertain to persons who claim to be of a gender that is incompatible with their biological sex.

“The Obama administration’s broad definition of ‘sex’ was enjoined by a federal court on a nationwide basis in December 2016 and the Obama administration did not appeal,” explained Caitlin Oakley, national spokesperson and senior advisor to the office of the assistant secretary for public affairs at HHS, in a statement at the time. She continued:

That court found that the Obama administration regulation was overbroad and inconsistent with the text of the 1972 Title IX law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex. The court order remains in full force and effect today and HHS is bound by it as we continue to review the issue. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and HHS’s Office for Civil Rights will continue to vigorously enforce all laws as written and passed by Congress, prohibiting discrimination in healthcare on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, and disability.

In May, the Trump administration announced a proposed rule that would change the Obama administration’s definition of sex discrimination under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) by eliminating “gender identity” and “termination of pregnancy.”

HHS said that, in 2016, the Obama administration redefined sex discrimination to include termination of pregnancy and gender identity, the latter of which it defined based, on transgender ideology, as “one’s internal sense of being ‘male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female.’”

“When Congress prohibited sex discrimination, it did so according to the plain meaning of the term, and we are making our regulations conform,” said HHS Office for Civil Rights Director Roger Severino. “The American people want vigorous protection of civil rights and faithfulness to the text of the laws passed by their representatives. The proposed rule would accomplish both goals.”

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