A federal appeals court has blocked the Biden administration from forcing Catholic doctors and hospitals from performing transgender surgeries, including on children.
The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in St. Louis, issued a unanimous ruling on Friday declaring that making Catholic surgeons and hospitals perform such procedures over their own religious objections violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, according to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the public interest law firm that represented the plaintiffs.
The decision upheld an earlier decision by a district judge in North Dakota, who rejected the administration’s arguments that an Obama-era rule mandated such surgeries to prevent sex discrimination.
In a press release, the Becket Fund noted that the Health and Human Services Department’s mandate was “applicable to nearly every doctor in the country,” and claimed that doctors were to perform “gender-transition procedures on any patient, including children, even if the doctor believed the procedure could harm the patient.” The administration reportedly applied the rule to doctors and facilities that receive federal funding.
In the news: Texas Lawmaker Seeks To Write ‘Parental Rights’ Into State’s Constitution
A coalition of Catholic hospitals, a Catholic university, and Catholic nuns who run health clinics for the poor challenged the Biden Administration’s attempt to enforce the HHS rule, which included the threat of “multimillion-dollar financial penalties,” Becket Fund said.
The 8th Circuit’s three-judge panel concluded that the “district court correctly held that ‘intrusion upon the Catholic Plaintiffs’ exercise of religion.’”
“The federal government has no business forcing doctors to violate their consciences or perform controversial procedures that could permanently harm their patients,” Luke Goodrich, VP and senior counsel at Becket Fund, said in a statement.
“This is a common-sense ruling that protects patients, aligns with best medical practice, and ensures doctors can follow their Hippocratic Oath to ‘do no harm.’”
“Today’s victory sets an important precedent that religious healthcare professionals are free to practice medicine in accordance with their consciences and experienced professional judgment,” Goodrich added. “The government’s attempt to force doctors to go against their consciences was bad for patients, bad for doctors, and bad for religious liberty.”
Becket Fund noted that this is the second time in recent months a federal appellate court permanently blocked the Biden administration’s attempt to force religious doctors and hospitals to perform gender-transition procedures.
In a separate case against the same HHS rule, the 5th Circuit, headquartered in New Orleans, issued a court order halting the mandate.
The Biden administration now has six weeks to ask the full 8th Circuit to rehear the case, or three months to the U.S. Supreme Court.