On Saturday, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor blocked transgender and abortion Obamacare (aka Affordable Care Act) protections just one day before they were slated to go into effect. The judge issued his injunction in response to a case filed by the state of Texas against the Obama administration, as Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers vow to repeal Obamacare entirely when Trump takes the reins.
As CNN reports, the Obamacare transgender and abortion ruling was determined by Judge O’Connor to violate the Administrative Procedure Act, which is a federal law governing rule-making practices. According to his ruling, the plaintiffs in the case (the state of Texas) claimed in their lawsuit that the soon-to-be implemented Obamacare regulation may infringe on their religious freedom and medical judgment, possibly requiring them to ignore their medical judgment.
The new Obamacare transgender and abortion coverage would have expanded Obamacare coverage for gender transitioning and abortion procedures. Like most Obamacare provisions, the regulations would not have provided exceptions for the religious convictions of medical and insurance providers.
“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 January 1, 2017. Plaintiffs argue the new regulation will require them to perform and provide insurance coverage for gender transitions and abortions, regardless of their contrary religious beliefs or medical judgment.”
As Reuters reports, Judge O’Connor also said in his lengthy 46-page opinion that if the new Obamacare transgender and abortion policy were allowed to go into effect, it was likely that prospective plaintiffs would be able to prove their case that the provision violated the rights of healthcare professionals. The judge cited the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as the basis for this opinion.
This isn’t the first time Judge O’Connor has taken a swipe at the Obama administration. In August, the same judge that shot down new Obamacare abortion and transgender coverage on Saturday blocked a controversial transgender bathroom policy. The transgender bathroom policy would have forced U.S. public schools to allow transgender students the use of the restroom of their choosing.
The state of Texas has been a bane to Obamacare and other federal rules and regulations throughout the tenure of the Obama administration. On a perennial basis, Texas has filed numerous lawsuits in an attempt to curtail “federal overreach.” Saturday’s Obamacare abortion and transgender protection ruling was the result of one such lawsuit.
The White House has already spoken out about Judge O’Connor’s Obamacare ruling, with spokeswoman Katie Hill calling the injunction against the protections that would have gone into effect at the start of the new year “a setback.” Hill added that Obamacare (or something similar) should be available to all Americans without exception.
“Today’s decision is a setback, but hopefully a temporary one, since all Americans — regardless of their sex, gender identity or sexual orientation — should have access to quality, affordable health care free from discrimination.”
Obamacare was passed amid much fanfare and controversy back in 2010. However, the roll-out of the socialized insurance program has been staggered, with provisions rolling out on an incremental basis. The injunction against the implementation of long-anticipated abortion and transgender coverage will undoubtedly be a blow to many.
With the Obama administration nearing the end of its road, it is unclear what will happen with Obamacare in the immediate future. The new Congress, led by conservative Republicans who have been out to kill Obamacare since the beginning, have promised to do away with the program completely. The president-elect has sworn that he will sign an Obamacare repeal bill into law. What remains to be seen is what Obamacare may be replaced with if it is done away with, and what such a drastic change could mean to the healthcare of the American people.
Because Obama’s presidency will end on January 20, it is unknown whether his administration will be seeking to appeal O’Connor’s Obamacare transgender and abortion ruling.
[Featured Image by Charles Dharapak/AP Images]