Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Texas federal judge complies with religious right and stops transgender health protections

On Saturday — somewhat predictably — U.S. District Court Judge Reed O'Connor ordered a halt to rules providing transgender citizens with equal access to health care. O'Connor absurdly wrote: “Plaintiffs will be forced to either violate their religious beliefs or maintain their current policies which seem to be in direct conflict with the Rule and risk the severe consequences of enforcement.”

Four months ago, the same judge issued an injunction against Department of Education guidance seeking to ensure that transgender public school students were permitted to use gender appropriate facilities.

The rule was to take effect on Sunday. At issue is a frivolous lawsuit filed by Texas AG (and certifiable whack job) Ken Paxton and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. They are attempting to overturn Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act which bars discrimination by health insurance companies and medial practitioners accepting federal funds. Texas is the lead plaintiff because the Becket Fund wanted this case to be heard by a Texas judge.

At the core of the plaintiffs' argument is the idea that all doctors are compelled to perform sex affirming surgery or provide hormone therapy upon request even if they have a religious or professional objection to doing so. It is a ridiculous proposition because the only people qualified to treat people with gender dysphoria are specialists who are trained to do so. Obviously those trained clinicians have no objections.

Joining Texas in the lawsuit over the health regulations are Wisconsin, Kentucky, Nebraska and Kansas, along with the Christian Medical and Dental Association and Franciscan Alliance, an Indiana-based network of Catholic hospitals.

O'Connor's ruling is presumably based upon his personal religious biases. Nevertheless, with government about to be in complete Republican control, it may be irrelevant. GOPers seem hell bent on getting rid of the Affordable Care Act, primarily because it was an Obama initiative.

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