The ACLU and ACLU of Texas are getting involved in a lawsuit over a regulation in the Affordable Care Act. In August, Texas filed a lawsuit against federal regulations that prohibit healthcare discrimination against people who are transgender. The lawsuit was announced by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, representing the Franciscan Alliance. The lawsuit will be heard in Wichita Falls.
The rules state that healthcare entities are not allowed to deny or limit services – including gender transition services – based on race, national origin, sex, age or disability.
But the State of Texas, along with four other states, says the regulation in would force doctors to perform medical procedures to change the gender of children.
The ACLU says the lawsuit would have the larger implication of allowing providers to use religion to deny medical care.
Josh Block, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT project, says the lawsuit echoes the recent attempt to strike down guidance from the U.S. Department of Education to allow public school students to use the bathroom that is in line with their gender identity.
Block says the ACLU got involved because no one else had intervened to represent the interest of the people who are being discriminated against.
“It’s really crucial that the people who are being discriminated against have a voice in that courtroom to explain why the law is so necessary,” he says.
Individual doctors and hospitals are saying they should not be required to perform gender transition procedures because they violate their religious beliefs. Block says the regulations aren’t targeted at individual doctors; instead, they require the medical institution to follow the rules.
“They don’t require anyone to perform any surgery or give any treatment that the doctor doesn’t want to,” Block says. “The obligations are on the entity that’s employing the doctors. The burden isn’t on anyone’s individual conscience – this is an organization that is claiming the right to have federal funds to provide healthcare to the general public but then discriminate based on their religious beliefs.”
See here for the background. I sincerely hope the ACLU has some company in its involvement here. I put in those last two paragraphs to address a comment from my earlier post on this topic. If the rule in question really applies to institutions and not individual doctors, I’m hard pressed to see what the objection is. Truth be told, though, I believe this rule should apply to individual doctors, for the same reason why individual firefighters should respond to an alarm at an LGBT person’s house regardless of that firefighter’s personal feelings. If you can’t treat every person you serve with equal respect, dignity, and effort, then you really ought to consider another occupation, and that’s before we take the Hippocratic Oath into account for the docs. Every person deserves equal treatment. What is so freaking difficult about that?