Bioethics News

Has Obamacare created a “transgender mandate”?

On yet another front, Obamacare has been challenged on ethical grounds, this time for allegedly forcing doctors to perform gender transition procedures on children.

Last year the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) interpreted the word “sex” in Obamacare Section 1557, which established nondiscrimination protections on the basis of sex to include gender identity. Now, say the plaintiffs in a case known as Franciscan Alliance, Inc., v. Burwell, doctors will be compelled to perform transgender surgeries on children and adults, even if doing so conflicts with a professional judgement that the procedure would be harmful or not in the patient’s best interests.

The case is being handled by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. It says that the government does not even require Medicare and Medicaid to cover these same gender transition procedures because HHS found the risks were high and benefits unclear. But an individual doctor citing the same evidence and their judgment in an individual case would be in violation of the new mandate and face potential lawsuits or job loss.

“No doctor should be forced to perform a procedure that he or she believes will harm a child,” said Lori Windham, of the Becket Fund. “Decisions on a child’s medical treatment should be between families and their doctors, not dictated by politicians and government bureaucrats.”

A new Becket Fund website provides leading research on this issue, including guidance the government itself relies on demonstrating that up to 94 percent of children with gender dysphoria (77 to 94 percent in one set of studies and 73 to 88 percent in another) will grow out of their dysphoria naturally and will not need surgery or lifelong hormone regimens.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.