Federal rule would have forced physicians to perform procedures in violation of their religious beliefs and professional opinions
Media Contact: Nicole Burton
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Oct. 18, 2019) – Gov. Matt Bevin today applauded a United States District Court for declaring unlawful a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulation that redefined discrimination on the basis of “sex” to include “gender identity” and “termination of pregnancy.” The federal rule intruded into the doctor-patient relationship, and would have forced doctors to perform controversial operations and abortions, even if they believed the procedures were not in the best interests of their patients, or violated their deeply held religious beliefs.
Judge Reed O’Connor of the U.S. District Court for Northern District of Texas ruled that the Obama-era HHS enacted the new rule without legal authority under the Administrative Procedure Act, and that it infringed on the rights of health care providers under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
"We applaud the Court's ruling in defense of the deeply held religious beliefs — and common sense — of doctors in Kentucky and across the nation," said Steve Pitt, general counsel to Gov. Bevin. "The opinion boldly underscores that HHS under President Obama lacked the legal authority to re-write federal laws preventing sex discrimination and protecting religious freedom. It makes clear that doctors cannot be forced to perform — nor taxpayers forced to pay for — controversial medical procedures that are contrary to the religious and moral convictions of millions of Americans."
The rule would have had a significant impact on health care providers in the Commonwealth and across the nation. It required taxpayers to fund all treatments designed for one to transition to a different sex. It would have also required physicians to either perform abortions and certain other medical treatments or refer patients seeking those treatments to another health care provider who would do so, regardless of the physician’s medical judgment or sincerely-held religious and moral beliefs.
On behalf of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Gov. Bevin's legal team joined the lawsuit, which was led by the Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas. Also joining the motion for summary judgment were the states of Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as Franciscan Alliance, Inc., Specialty Physicians of Illinois, LLC, and Christian Medical and Dental Associations.
To view a copy of the District Court ruling, click here.