A ruling by a District Court has decided that select rules in the Affordable Care Act could cause "irreparable injury" to religious organizations.
Since the passing of the Affordable Care Act, religious organizations and practitioners have expressed concerns about how the healthcare bill could require religious medical care providers to present and fund controversial treatments, like abortions or gender transitions.
In 2016, the Obama Administration had attached a mandate to the Act that required health care providers to offer insurance for those desiring a gender transition. The Department of Health and Human Services has consistently argued that they do not require religious organizations to offer such procedures and would not use any tools to enforce such a ruling. But that has not stopped religious organizations from getting into trouble.
A District Court Judge in Northern Texas does believe that the current regulations enforced by the health department would require the plaintiffs to choose between their moral beliefs and their ability to provide medical services. This tension could lead to "irreparable injury." writes Judge Reed O'Connor, who issued the injunction selectively in favor of the Franciscan Alliance, a midwestern Catholic hospital network and the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), a trade group.
O'Connor ruled that the mandate to offer insurance could not be enforced on the Franciscan Alliance or CMDA "in a manner that would require them to perform or provide insurance coverage for gender-transition procedures or abortions."
The lawsuit, filed by religious liberty legal firm Becket, was filed almost immediately in 2016 by the Franciscan Alliance and many other organizations. The initial case had succeeded, leading to the Northern District of Texas filing a preliminary nationwide injunction that stopped the mandate because it violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. A court in North Dakota came to a similar conclusion concerning the Catholic Benefits Association.
Becket attorney Luke Goodrich told the Associated Press that "Everyone is better off when these doctors and hospitals can continue to provide top-notch medical care" without concerns about their conscience stopping them. The defendant, Omar Gonzalez-Pagan of Lambda Legal, retorted by claiming that the court and plaintiffs were "fabricating a controversy" and that the court decisions have been conflicting as of late, thus requiring a Supreme Court intervention soon.