By: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer
WASHINGTON, D.C – A federal judge in Texas on Saturday December 31, issued a court order blocking enforcement of the Obama administration policy which extends anti-discrimination protections under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to transgender health and abortion-related services.
The decision sides with the conservative state of Texas as well as seven other states that are controlled by conservative republicans and three Christian-affiliated healthcare groups who are challenging a rule in the protections that, according to U.S. District Judge Reed O’Conner ruled that what the Obama administration was doing was unconstitutional and that it does not protect religious freedom.
U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor pulled this stunt one day before the law was to go into motion. O’Conner ruled that the Obama Administration violated the Administrative Procedure Act, a federal law governing rule-making practices.
Judge O’Conner further ruled “plaintiffs were likely to prevail in court on their claim that the new policy infringes on the rights of private healthcare providers under the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”
O’Connor explained his decision in a lengthy 46-page opinion..”the plaintiffs argued that the new regulation would “require them to perform and provide insurance coverage for gender transitions and abortions, regardless of their contrary religious beliefs or medical judgment.”
Now here is the thorn…Judge O’Conner is the same judge who issued a similar court order back in August 2016 sided with 13 states and blocked a separate Obama administration policy that would have required public schools to allow transgender students to use restrooms of their choice.
White House spokeswoman Katie Hill responded to Judge O’Conner’s latest injunction;
“Today’s decision is a setback, but hopefully a temporary one, since all Americans – regardless of their sex or sexual orientation – should have access to quality, affordable health care free from discrimination. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, was passed in 2010 with an anti-discrimination clause designed to prevent insurers from charging customers more or denying coverage based on age or sex. The rule in dispute on Saturday was adopted by the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Department to implement those provisions, including definitions for sex discrimination that encompassed transgender and abortion services.
According to the court opinion, gender identity was defined under that rule as “an individual’s internal sense of gender, which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female, and which may be different from an individual’s sex assigned at birth.”
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