August 7, 2022

Has Obamacare created a “transgender mandate”?

Activists claim that doctors will be forced to perform gender transition procedures.

On yet another front, Obamacare has been challenged on ethical grounds, this time for allegedly forcing doctors to perform gender transition procedures on children.

Last year the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) interpreted the word “sex” in Obamacare Section 1557, which established nondiscrimination protections on the basis of sex to include gender identity. Now, say the plaintiffs in a case known as Franciscan Alliance, Inc., v. Burwell, doctors will be compelled to perform transgender surgeries on children and adults, even if doing so conflicts with a professional judgement that the procedure would be harmful or not in the patient’s best interests.

The case is being handled by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. It says that the government does not even require Medicare and Medicaid to cover these same gender transition procedures because HHS found the risks were high and benefits unclear. But an individual doctor citing the same evidence and their judgment in an individual case would be in violation of the new mandate and face potential lawsuits or job loss.

“No doctor should be forced to perform a procedure that he or she believes will harm a child,” said Lori Windham, of the Becket Fund. “Decisions on a child’s medical treatment should be between families and their doctors, not dictated by politicians and government bureaucrats.”

A new Becket Fund website provides leading research on this issue, including guidance the government itself relies on demonstrating that up to 94 percent of children with gender dysphoria (77 to 94 percent in one set of studies and 73 to 88 percent in another) will grow out of their dysphoria naturally and will not need surgery or lifelong hormone regimens. Studies also show that there are numerous negative effects when children undergo hormone regimens, such as increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer.

“The administration is trying to impose its own trendy ideology across the land — in defiance of the law, science and democratic norms. Every friend of liberty should be fighting back.,” said an editorial in the New York Post.

Unsurprisingly, the progressive site Think Progress saw matters differently. It ominously opined that :

this lawsuit sets a terrifying precedent for transgender people. If these cases reach the Supreme Court and it follows the same reasoning it used in Hobby Lobby — perhaps less likely without Justice Antonin Scalia, but still possible— it would create a society in which transgender people could legally be denied the necessary foundations of life simply because of their identities.

Transgender activists believe that fears of conscience violations are unfounded. “The example unfortunately used by individuals who oppose this is that this is going to force doctors to provide transition surgeries to children [but] this doesn’t take away a doctor’s ability to make informed decisions in the best interest of their patients,” said Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign. “What the doctor can’t do is say, ‘I won’t treat you because you’re transgender.'”

The plaintiffs in Franciscan Alliance, Inc., v. Burwell are Franciscan Alliance, a religious hospital network sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, and the Christian Medical & Dental Associations, joined by the states of Texas, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. 

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transgender children
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