August 18, 2021

Federal Judge Blocks HHS Mandate that Pro-Life Doctors Participate in Abortions

A federal court blocked an attempt by the Biden administration to resurrect an Obama era mandate that pro-life doctors participate in abortions as instructed by their employers. The mandate was similarly blocked by courts when the Obama administration attempted to impose it, but it's a relief to know that it won't be enforced this time either.

On Aug. 9, Judge Reed O’Connor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas granted a permanent injunction against the HHS mandate on the grounds that it violated the conscience protections of health care professionals. Judge Reed ruled in Franciscan Alliance, Inc. et al. v. Xavier Becerra that the HHS mandate would cause "irreparable harm" to religious liberty protections.

If the HHS was allowed to enforce the rule, pro-life doctors could face fines and other penalties.

“Here, Christian Plaintiffs contend that violation of their statutory rights under RFRA is an irreparable harm,” Judge Reed's ruling states. “The Court agrees and concludes that enforcement of the 2021 Interpretation forces Christian Plaintiffs to face civil penalties or to perform gender-transition procedures and abortions contrary to their religious beliefs—a quintessential irreparable injury.”

The ruling goes on to say that Becerra will be prohibited “from interpreting or enforcing” the law “in a manner that would require them to perform or provide insurance coverage for gender-transition procedures or abortions, including by denying Federal financial assistance because of their failure to perform or provide insurance coverage for such procedures or by otherwise pursuing, charging, or assessing any penalties, fines, assessments, investigations, or other enforcement actions.”