AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton today applauded the United States District Court for declaring unlawful a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulation that redefined discrimination on the basis of “sex” to include “gender identity” and “termination of pregnancy.” The federal rule intruded into the doctor-patient relationship, and would have forced doctors to perform controversial operations and abortions, even if they believed the procedures were not in the best interests of their patients, or violated their deeply held religious or conscientious beliefs.
Judge Reed O’Connor of the U.S. District Court for Northern District of Texas ruled that the Obama-era HHS enacted the new rule without legal authority under the Administrative Procedure Act, and that it infringed on the rights of health care providers under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
“We are deeply grateful to the Court for recognizing that Washington’s pursuit of an ideological agenda must still be constrained by the rule of law—including the Separation of Powers and legal protection for religious freedom,” Attorney General Paxton said. “HHS lacked the legal authority to re-write a number of federal laws that prevent sex discrimination and protect religious freedom, especially when it sought to do so by forcing doctors to perform—and American taxpayers to pay for—controversial medical procedures that are contrary to the religious and moral beliefs of millions across our nation.”
The rule would have had a significant impact on Texas, and other states and health care providers. It required taxpayers to fund all treatments designed for one to transition to a different sex. It would have also required physicians to either perform abortions and certain other medical treatments or refer patients seeking those treatments to another health care provider who would do so, regardless of the physician’s medical judgment or sincerely-held religious and moral beliefs. In addition, the rule would have forced the Employee Retirement System of Texas and others to amend insurance coverage for some 500,000 participants by providing for gender reassignment and abortions.
Texas was joined in the motion for summary judgment by the states of Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, as well as Franciscan Alliance, Inc., Specialty Physicians of Illinois, LLC, and Christian Medical and Dental Associations.
View the court’s opinion HERE