Five states, led by Texas, and several nonprofit medical groups, all of which are religiously affiliated, filed a lawsuit on Tuesday challenging the Obama administration’s efforts to guarantee health care coverage to transgender people under the Affordable Care Act.
“On pain of significant financial liability, the [Health and Human Services Department’s] Regulation forces doctors to perform controversial and sometimes harmful medical procedures ostensibly designed to permanently change an individual’s sex—including the sex of children,” the complaint in the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit was filed in the same division of the Northern District of Texas — the Wichita Falls Division — as the state’s prior multi-state lawsuit challenging the Obama administration’s other pro-transgender policies was filed. The judge in that division, US District Court Judge Reed O’Connor, issued a preliminary injunction on Sunday preventing the administration from advancing its efforts to protect transgender people under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
The new lawsuit — also assigned to O’Connor — alleges that a regulation under the ACA similarly “redefines ‘sex’ to include ‘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.’”
The HHS regulation, the lawsuit alleges, “not only forces healthcare professionals to violate their medical judgment, it also forces them to violate their deeply held religious beliefs.”
The Texas Attorney General’s Office has led a series of multi-state efforts challenging federal policies put forth by the Obama administration, including its successful effort to stop the administration’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) immigration executive action — a case that went all the way to the US Supreme Court earlier this year.
The religiously affiliated nonprofit groups, meanwhile, are represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. The Becket Fund has been one of the key groups backing religious-based challenges to the Affordable Care Act, including, most notably, the Hobby Lobby challenge to the HHS contraception mandate rule issued under the ACA.