June 24, 2024

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Florida sues Biden administration over new transgender health care rule

2 min read

Florida’s top prosecutor and a Catholic medical group on Tuesday sued the Biden administration in an effort to block a rule that they say will force doctors to provide gender transition care against their judgment or face heavy penalties.

The lawsuit by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and the Catholic Medical Association (CMA), filed in federal court in Tampa, takes aim at a new rule, published by the U.S. Department of Health and Services (HHS) on Monday that would ban discrimination in health care on the basis of gender identity.

The rule is based on an anti-discrimination provision within the Affordable Care Act, the national health insurance law better known as Obamacare, which forbids sex discrimination.

In their complaint, Moody and CMA say the new rule goes beyond the anti-discrimination law. They say it would force doctors to provide, and insurance to pay for, treatments including puberty blockers, hormones and surgeries for transgender minors and adults against their medical or ethical judgment.

They also said the rule conflicted with a Florida law banning such treatments, which are known as gender-affirming care, for minors.

“These rules trample states’ power to protect their own citizens and we will not stand by as Biden tries, yet again, to use the force of the federal government to unlawfully stifle Florida’s effort to protect children,” Moody said in a statement.

The plaintiffs claim that the rule is “arbitrary and capricious” under a federal law governing agency rulemaking, and violates doctors’ right to free speech and freedom of religion under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. They are asking the court for an order blocking its enforcement.

HHS said not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The agency and major medical organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics have said that gender-affirming care is medically necessary and potentially lifesaving, and have called restrictions on it discriminatory.

President Joe Biden, a Democrat, in a 2022 executive order instructed federal agencies like HHS to ensure access to gender-affirming care and prevent discrimination against transgender people.

Republican-led states, meanwhile, have passed a flurry of laws directed at transgender people, including bans on gender-affirming care for minors and restrictions on transgender students’ participation in sports.

Last week, a group of Republican states sued the administration over a rule that would bar schools and colleges receiving federal funds from discriminating against transgender students.

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