Catholic Medical Association and paediatricians sue over ‘transgender mandate’


The US Catholic Medical Association has joined a lawsuit against a Biden administration rule. They say the transgender mandate –  reintroduced in May – tramples the conscience rights of doctors opposed to gender-transitioning procedures.

The mandate does not provide exemptions for doctors from performing gender-transitioning procedures after a mental health professional’s referral. It overrules their opposition to the procedures for medical or conscience reasons.

“Biological identity must remain the basis for treating patients,” the association’s president Dr. Michael Parker says. The “transgender mandate” interprets unlawful sex discrimination in health care to include discrimination on the basis of self-determined gender identity, he explains.

Parker is concerned that the mandate not only risks patient health and safety, but also mandates that health care providers give up their fundamental right to conscience. “This sets a dangerous precedent with incalculable implications for the ethical practice of medicine,” he says.

The Catholic Medical Association is a national network of Catholic doctors and health care workers. Together with the American College of Pediatricians, a national network of pediatrician, representatives say they represent 3,000 doctors and health care workers.

“Forcing doctors to prescribe transition hormones for 13-year-olds or perform life altering surgeries on adolescents is unlawful, unethical, and dangerous,” says a Bangert, senior counsel for the two groups.

The lawsuit says that under the mandate, “doctors now face an untenable choice: either act against their medical judgment and deeply held convictions by performing controversial and often medically dangerous gender-transition interventions, or succumb to huge financial penalties, lose participation in Medicaid and other federal funding, and, as a practical matter, lose the ability to practice medicine in virtually any setting.”

In US law, sex discrimination in health care is illegal.

Timeline of changes to the mandate

2016: The Obama administration first issued the mandate when it interpreted the health care law’s prohibition on sex discrimination to include discrimination against gender identity.

The administration required doctors to provide gender-transitioning procedures upon referral. There were no exemptions for doctors’ religious or medical objections.

Catholic health care institutions and several states sued. They won an injunction from the mandate in federal court in 2016.

2020: The Trump administration allowed doctors to opt out of the mandate. It re-interpreted the Affordable Care Act’s prohibition on sex discrimination.

Two federal courts halted parts of that rule from going into effect.

2021: The Biden administration issued its notice reinstating the mandate.

A federal district court judge granted permanent relief from the mandate for the Catholic hospital network Franciscan Alliance and the Christian Medical and Dental Associations.

The lawsuit seeks a permanent nationwide injunction from the mandate for other health care groups as well.



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