A U.S. district judge ruled Saturday that doctors may turn away transgender patients and women who have had abortions on the basis of religious freedom.
Judge Reed O’Connor wrote in his order that laws that would otherwise forbid gender-based discrimination require doctors to “remove the categorical exclusion of transitions and abortions and conduct an individualized assessment of every request for those procedures.” As Mic explains, doctors would be required to defend on an individual basis their refusal of a patient. O’Connor, in blocking the requirement, wrote that it “imposes a burden” on doctors’ ability to exercise their religion.
O’Connor cited the controversial 2014 Burwell v. Hobby Lobby ruling, which allows family-owned corporations to refuse insurance coverage for birth control under the Affordable Care Act if it conflicts with their religious beliefs.
O’Connor further claimed that an individual doctor refusing to treat a trans patient or a woman who has had an abortion does not limit those patients' access to health care and coverage, and he argued that the government does not seem specifically concerned with trans people’s access to health care anyway.
"The government's own health insurance programs, Medicare and Medicaid, do not mandate coverage for transition surgeries; the military's health insurance program, TRICARE, specifically excludes coverage for transition surgeries," O'Connor wrote in his judgment.
As Mic notes, O’Connor’s ruling only further limits options for transgender people and contributes to efforts to punish women for their reproductive choices.
The ruling also paves the way for even more discrimination on the grounds of religious freedom.
Read more at Mic.