Saturday, December 31, 2016

Court Enjoins Health Care Gender Identity and Abortion Non-Discrimination Rule

Today, in a 46-page opinion, a Texas federal district court issued a nationwide preliminary injunction barring enforcement of a regulation issued by the Obama administration under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity or termination of pregnancy in health care programs that receive federal financial assistance. In Franciscan Alliance, Inc. v. Burwell, (ND TX, Dec. 31, 2016), a Texas federal district court, in a suit by eight states and three private health care providers, first held that the Department of Health and Human Services exceeded its authority in interpreting the statutory ban on "sex" discrimination to include discrimination on the basis of gender identity, stating:
Title IX and Congress’s incorporation of it in the ACA unambiguously adopted the binary definition of sex.
The court also concluded that the health care providers have shown a substantial likelihood that the challenged Rule violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in requiring them to perform and provide insurance coverage for gender transitions and abortions in violation of their religious beliefs. Becket Fund issued a press release announcing the decision.

Judge Reed O'Connor who handed down the decision had previously issued a nationwide injunction baring enforcement of federal guidelines interpreting Title IX as barring discrimination by schools on the basis of gender identity. (See prior posting.)