On April 20th, Luke Goodrich—vice president and senior counsel at Becket—announced on Twitter that the Biden administration had filed an appeal in Federal court that seeks to force religious benefits associations, and religious doctors and hospitals, to pay for (by insurance) and to perform “gender transition” procedures.
The appeal challenges a ruling from earlier this year, which had permanently enjoined and restrained the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from enforcing the mandate which came into being through the Obama-era “Affordable Care Act.” That decision can be read here: (link will open a PDF of the ruling).
Leading the charge for the Biden administration will be the head of HHS, Xavier Becerra (though no doubt he’ll be amply aided by his Assistant Secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, a man who identifies as a transgender ‘woman’). Becerra, in his previous role as Attorney General of California, was rather infamous in his dogged persecution of the Little Sisters of the Poor in spite of the Supreme Court having ruled in their favor against another “HHS mandate” (having to do with the provision of contraceptive and abortifacient coverage in employer health plans, to which the Little Sisters obviously objected). This history was a prominent theme during Becerra’s confirmation hearing, particularly during question from Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE):
On Twitter, Goodrich rightly observed that, quite apart from the questions of religious liberty and conscience, the so-called “Transgender Mandate” is simply bad policy:
Goodrich went on to point out that not only have federal courts taken this stance in the past, but it was also the finding of the government’s own doctors under the Obama administration! Asked to opine on a “National Coverage Determination” for gender reassignment surgery, the agency experts at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) declined, writing in their memo that “a thorough review of the clinical evidence available” determined that “there [was] not enough evidence to determine whether gender reassignment surgery improves health outcomes.” They also noted that, in some of “the best designed studies, some reported benefits while others reported harms” [emphasis added] .
Goodrich expressed confidence that the Sisters of Mercy and their co-plaintiffs would succeed again in Court, and this confidence does seem well-founded, especially given the current Supreme Court’s historical record on issues pertaining to religious freedom claims. Nevertheless, this latest move by the Biden administration to persecute and harry yet another group of Catholic nuns is an ominous sign of what believers may expect for the next few weary years.