Texas judge strikes down statute protecting transgender people from healthcare discrimination

Both the White House and Health and Human Services expressed disappointment at the decision.
By Brooks Hays   |   Jan. 1, 2017 at 11:15 AM
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FORT WORTH, Texas, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- An Obamacare statute designed to protect transgender people from healthcare discrimination has been struck down by a federal judge in Texas. The statute -- a rule written in accordance with the Affordable Care Act and enforced by regulators at Health and Human Services -- was also intended to protect access abortion services.

"Plaintiffs claim the rule's interpretation of sex discrimination pressures doctors to deliver healthcare in a manner that violates their religious freedom and thwarts their independent medical judgment and will require burdensome changes to their health insurance plans on Jan. 1, 2017," U.S. District Court Judge Reed O'Connor wrote in his ruling.

O'Connor is the same judge who nullified the Obama administration's transgender bathroom policy, which called on schools to allow students to use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identity.

As in the bathroom case, O'Connor agreed with plaintiffs that the regulation violated the Administrative Procedure Act -- a law dictating the limits of government rule-making -- and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. O'Connor said the plaintiffs had sufficient reason to fear the law would result in religious discrimination.

Both the White House and Health and Human Services expressed disappointment at the decision.

"We will continue to enforce the law -- including its important protections against discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, or disability and its provisions aimed at enhancing language assistance for people with limited English proficiency, as well as other sex discrimination provisions -- to the full extent consistent with the court's order," HHS spokesperson Marjorie Connolly said in a statement.

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