A federal judge in Texas on Saturday issued a court order barring enforcement of an Obama administration policy seeking to extend anti-discrimination protections under the Affordable Care Act to transgender health and abortion-related services.
The decision sides with Texas, seven other states and three Christian-affiliated healthcare groups challenging a rule that, according to the judge, defines sex bias to include "discrimination on the basis of gender identity and termination of pregnancy."
In granting an injunction one day before the new policy was to take effect, US District Judge Reed O'Connor held that it violates the Administrative Procedure Act, a federal law governing rule-making practices.
The judge also ruled that plaintiffs were likely to prevail in court on their claim that the new policy infringes on the rights of private healthcare providers under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
As explained in O'Connor's 46-page opinion, the plaintiffs argued that the new regulation would "require them to perform and provide insurance coverage for gender transitions and abortions, regardless of their contrary religious beliefs or medical judgment."