The extent to which the federal government can force doctors to violate their beliefs in the name of LGBT politics is being fought out in the Tennessee-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.
A 2021 Executive Order from President Joe Biden sought to equate gender identity and biology when it comes to the legalities around discrimination. That means a doctor believing boys are born boys and girls are born girls could be forced to provide gender transition drugs, treatments and surgeries on pain of facing a lawsuit alleging discrimination.
The American College of Pediatricians, Catholic Medical Associates, and an OB-GYN doctor whose care focus is adolescents sued to block enforcement.
“This case challenges whether the federal government can make medical doctors perform gender-transition surgeries, prescribe gender-transition drugs, and speak and write about patients according to gender identity, rather than biological reality—regardless of doctors’ medical judgment or conscientious objections,” the group, which is represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, said in its complaint.
“Under the government’s overreaching interpretation, doctors now face an untenable choice: either act against their medical judgment and deeply held convictions by performing controversial and often medically dangerous gender-transition interventions, or succumb to huge financial penalties, lose participation in Medicaid and other federal funding, and, as a practical matter, lose the ability to practice medicine in virtually any setting,” the complaint said.
“Doctors should never be forced to perform a controversial and medically dangerous procedure that goes against their best judgment, their conscience, or their religion, especially when it involves vulnerable children,” ADF Senior Counsel Chris Schandevel said in a statement, according to CBN.
“President Biden’s Health and Human Services department is grossly overreaching its authority and, in so doing, putting children’s psychological and physical health in danger. Our clients are rightfully objecting on medical, ethical, religious, and conscientious grounds to this unlawful government mandate,” he said.
The lawsuit was dismissed in November 2022 because in the view of Obama appointee and U.S. District Judge Travis McDonough, just the presence of the law, without any enforcement actions being taken, was not enough to show anyone was damaged by it.
Although injunctions to block the law were issued in the Fifth and Eighth circuits, McDonough said that was of no importance.
“In the Sixth Circuit, ‘the mere possibility of prosecution,’ such as the plaintiff’s intended course of action falling within the plain text of a non-moribund statute, ‘does not amount to a “credible threat” of prosecution. Instead, the threat of prosecution must be certainly impending to constitute injury in fact,'” he wrote.
Lathan Watts, vice president of the ADF, noted in an Op-Ed in National Review that the legalese over standing masks the real importance of the order.
“While the legal question before the court is focused on whether the physicians and other health-care professionals have standing to seek relief from the courts, much more troubling cultural currents loom beneath the surface: the politicization of medicine and laws made by the unelected and unaccountable branches of government,” he wrote.
“For the 3,000 members of the American College of Pediatricians and the Catholic Medical Association, along with innumerable physicians across the country who abide by the Hippocratic Oath to ‘first, do no harm,’ permanently altering the healthy body of a child is unthinkable,” he wrote.
He said the administration does not need to have acted for the order to have a chilling effect, writing “the potential consequences of the Biden administration’s gender-identity mandate loom like the Sword of Damocles over the heads of those whose personal and professional ethics are at odds with the ongoing politicization of medicine.”
Because the administration says it will enforce the order, but has not done so, “doctors across the nation are now in the untenable position of choosing between adherence to conscience and adherence to the ideology of federal bureaucrats,” Watts wrote.
“The choice is not only an impossible one for these doctors but also an unconstitutional one for any citizen of this republic. The religious liberty and free speech clauses of the First Amendment were written to protect the God-given right to live and speak according to one’s convictions and to prevent government-coerced speech or conduct,” he wrote.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.