Biden can’t force Christian doctors to perform trans surgeries: court

U.S. President Joe Biden
U.S. President Joe Biden | Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

A federal court has ruled that Christian healthcare workers cannot be forced to perform elective, body-disfiguring surgeries for individuals who identify as trans despite a mandate from the Biden administration.

In an order released on Monday, the United States District Court of the District of North Dakota granted partial summary judgment in favor of the Christian Employers Alliance.

At issue were two mandates from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that interpret Title VII antidiscrimination protections based on “sex” to include sexual orientation and self-declared gender identity. It would require religious employers to provide health insurance that covers body-mutilating trans surgeries and force surgeons with religious objections to perform such procedures as castration for males and elective double mastectomies for females or face charges of discrimination based on gender identity.

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The court concluded that “CEA will succeed on the merits,” adding that “if CEA had to comply with these mandates, its members would have to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs which is an impermissible exercise under the First Amendment and [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act].”

“CEA’s sincerely held religious belief is that male and female are immutable realities defined by biological sex and that gender reassignment is contrary to Christian Values,” reads the order.

“As a result, performing or providing health care coverage for gender transition services under the EEOC and HHS coverage mandates impinges upon CEA’s beliefs. CEA must either comply with the EEOC and HHS mandates by violating their sincerely held religious beliefs or else face harsh consequences like paying fines and facing civil liability.”

The decision added that although “protecting the right of transgender patients to access crucial healthcare and protecting workers from sex discrimination is certainly a compelling interest, the Defendants here have done nothing more than identify a broadly formulated interest in an attempt to justify the general applicability of the government mandates.”

The Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative law firm that is helping to represent the CEA, celebrated the order, viewing it as a victory for religious liberty.

“All employers and healthcare providers, including those in the Christian Employers Alliance, have the constitutionally protected freedom to conduct their business and render treatment in a manner consistent with their deeply held religious beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel Matt Bowman in a statement.

“The employers we represent believe that God purposefully created humans as either male or female, and so it would violate their religious beliefs to pay for or perform life-altering medical procedures or surgeries that seek to change one’s sex. The court was on firm ground to stop the administration from enforcing these unlawful mandates that disrespect people of faith.”

In 2016, the Obama administration enacted a final rule that interpreted Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which focused on prohibiting discrimination in healthcare based on sex, to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

The final rule was challenged in court by several states and various religious groups, and was eventually repealed by the Trump administration in 2018.

However, under the Biden administration, the EEOC and HHS returned to the Obama-era interpretation of sex to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

To justify returning to the older policy, the administration cited the 2020 U.S. Supreme Court decision Bostock v. Clayton County, in which the high court ruled that Title VII protected against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“The Supreme Court in Bostock recognized that to discriminate against a person based on sexual orientation or transgender status is to discriminate against that individual based on sex,” stated the EEOC in June 2021. 

“Therefore, the Supreme Court held that Title VII makes it unlawful for a covered employer to take an employee’s sexual orientation or transgender status into account in making employment-related decisions.”

In October 2021, CEA filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration, arguing that the mandate forced religious groups like them to perform actions contrary to their beliefs.

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