Appeals Court Blocks Joe Biden’s Mandate Trying to Force Christian Doctors to Do Abortions
National | Steven Ertelt | Dec 9, 2022 | 2:12PM | Washington, DC
A federal appeals court has permanently blocked Joe Biden’s controversial mandate attempting to force Christian doctors to kill babies in abortions.
Christian medical leaders raised the alarm about a new pro-abortion mandate from the Biden administration that could shut down Christian health care throughout the U.S. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services officials planned to revoke a Trump administration rule that protected pro-life medical workers from being forced to kill unborn babies in elective abortions.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed suit presenting Christian doctors challenging two Biden administration mandates. They say the mandate forces religious nonprofit and for-profit employers to pay for and perform surgeries, procedures, counseling, and treatments that seek to alter one’s biological sex and to do abortions — actions that violate their religious beliefs.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the Biden abortion mandate on August 26, ruling that religious doctors could not be required to perform procedures like abortion that violate their beliefs.
The Biden administration had until November 25th to appeal the ruling and failed to do so — meaning the mandate is now blocked by that appellate court.
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Meanwhile, in a second case against the gender mandate, a federal appeals court today permanently blocked the Biden Administration’s attempt to force religious doctors and hospitals to violate their conscience. concluding that the Administration’s plan would violate a key federal law protecting religious freedom. This is the second appeals court ruling blocking the mandate.
“The federal government has no business forcing doctors to violate their consciences or perform controversial procedures that could permanently harm their patients,” said Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel at Becket. “This is a common-sense ruling that protects patients, aligns with best medical practice, and ensures doctors can follow their Hippocratic Oath to ‘do no harm.’”
In Sisters of Mercy v. Becerra, a coalition of Catholic hospitals, a Catholic university, and Catholic nuns who run health clinics for the poor challenged the Biden Administration’s attempt to invoke the Affordable Care Act to force doctors and hospitals to perform certain procedures like aboriton that violate their conscience. A federal district court held that this mandate was unlawful and blocked it from taking effect. The Biden Administration then appealed to the Eight Circuit, which today concluded that the “district court correctly held that ‘intrusion upon the Catholic Plaintiffs’ exercise of religion’” supported permanent protection.
“Today’s victory sets an important precedent that religious healthcare professionals are free to practice medicine in accordance with their consciences and experienced professional judgment,” said Goodrich. “The government’s attempt to force doctors to go against their consciences was bad for patients, bad for doctors, and bad for religious liberty.”
The mandate, first issued in 2016 and applicable to nearly every doctor in the country, interpreted the Affordable Care Act to require doctors to perform procedures against their will.
Immediately, religious organizations and states sued, challenging the legality of the mandate in multiple courts.
In addition to the Religious Sisters of Mercy case, Becket also represents the plaintiffs in Franciscan Alliance v. Becerra, including a religious hospital network sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration and the Christian Medical & Dental Associations—defending them from the same government mandate. That case also resulted in a court order stopping the mandate from taking effect, which Fifth Circuit affirmed in August 2022.
The Administration now has 60 days to ask the Eighth Circuit to rehear the Religious Sisters of Mercy case or 90 days to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Christian Medical & Dental Associations told LifeNews that the end of the Biden mandate is a major victory for pro-life physicians to protect the religious beliefs of healthcare professionals from being forced to perform gender-transition procedures or abortions against their conscience and best medical judgment.
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“This key legal battle is a hard-fought victory that impacts and protects the rights of healthcare professionals across this country,” said CMDA CEO Mike Chupp, MD, FACS.
“CMDA’s national polling proves that healthcare professionals of faith are committed to caring for all patients with dignity and respect,” said CMDA Senior Vice President of Bioethics and Public Policy Jeffrey Barrows, DO, MA (Ethics), who is an OBGYN.
“No one should be forced to violate their conscience or sincere religious beliefs,” said Dr. Barrows. “Most importantly, each patient we treat is better off when healthcare professionals who are motivated by their convictions are free to provide quality care without being forced to check those convictions at the door.”
ADF Legal Counsel Jacob Reed said “All employers, including those in the Christian Employers Alliance, have the constitutional right to conduct their business in a manner consistent with their deeply held religious beliefs.”
“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 biological sex. We urge the court to immediately halt enforcement of these unlawful mandates that disrespect people of faith,” he added.
The lawsuit explains that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is misinterpreting and improperly enforcing discrimination based on sex in Title VII to force religious employers to pay for and provide health insurance coverage for such surgeries and procedures. Additionally, the lawsuit challenges the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ reinterpretation of “sex” in federal law to include gender identity, thereby forcing religious healthcare providers to physically perform or facilitate surgeries and procedures that conflict with their deeply held beliefs.
The HHS mandate also compels religious healthcare providers to speak positively about these procedures even if they disagree with them and prohibits them from sharing their medical opinions or objections. Neither the EEOC nor HHS provide religious exemptions to these mandates. If CEA members fail to comply with these mandates, they face loss of federal funds, the prospect of expensive and burdensome litigation, and in some cases fines, criminal penalties, and attorneys’ fees and costs.
Abortion advocates loved the Biden mandate.
Jacqueline Ayers, the senior vice president of policy, organizing and campaigns for Planned Parenthood, told Politico that they are excited about the new Biden administration rule. Twisting the issue, she slammed conscience protections as “discriminatory.”
“As state politicians continue to strip people of their sexual and reproductive rights and freedoms, it’s imperative that the Biden-Harris administration revoke this discriminatory policy and help ensure people can access the health care and information they need when they need it,” Ayers said. “We look forward to seeing the details of the new rule and are excited about this step forward.”
Forcing doctors and nurses to abort unborn babies or lose their jobs is the real discrimination, and pro-life advocates are urging the president to withdraw his plan.
“This is an illegal and gross overreach of executive power, and we urge the administration to withdraw this harmful proposal immediately,” Bowman said.
Pro-life leaders feared Biden would work to dismantle religious freedom for pro-life medical workers after his administration dropped a lawsuit last year defending a pro-life nurse who allegedly was forced into aborting an unborn baby. The Vermont nurse said she was tricked into helping with an elective abortion even though the doctors knew her objections; she said they told her she would be helping with a miscarriage.
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