Advocating for religious liberty and human dignity in the medical field

The cases of Franciscan Alliance v. Azar and New York v. HHS

October 21, 2019

Must doctors offer services that violate their sincerely held beliefs? On Oct. 15, 2019, a federal court in Texas answered that question with a strong, “No.”   

According to Becket law, in Franciscan Alliance v. Azar, “a federal regulation threatened to drive religious doctors out of practice if they would not perform gender-transition procedures that violate their medical judgment and beliefs.” However, the “ruling strikes down the regulation, ensuring that doctors can continue practicing their profession consistent with their conscience.”

The Becket Law case explainer gives the background:  

“. . . in 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a regulation, applicable to virtually every doctor in the country, that would have required them to perform gender-transition procedures on any patient referred by a mental health professional, even if the doctor believed the treatment could harm the patient. Doctors who refused to violate their conscience would have faced severe consequences, including losing their job.”   

Such a regulation was an obvious violation of the consciences of doctors who refused to perform gender-transitions on principled grounds.   

Further implications: New York v. HHS

Cases like Franciscan Alliance v. Azar have major implications for other cases that deal with the religious freedom of medical and dental professionals. One such case, which is also being represented by Becket Law, is New York v. HHS. In this particular case, Becket Law is advocating for the individual rights of doctors like Regina Frost who practice in states that have defied recent HHS mandates regarding a “new Conscience Rule that allow religious healthcare professionals to continue their important work without having to perform certain procedures which would be inconsistent with their beliefs.”   

Christians should care about these cases because the dignity of humanity is at stake.

As Becket put it, medical professionals should not have to choose between practicing religion or practicing medicine. In New York v. HHS, Becket is representing the individual rights of Regina Frost, an OB-GYN who leads “a network of female healthcare professionals called Women Physicians in Christ, a ministry of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA) that is committed to supporting women physicians and dentists by integrating their personal, spiritual, and professional lives.”  

The importance for Christians   

For Christians watching these events unfolding in the public square, these cases are important. Not only do they address religious liberty, but they impact the healthcare of thousands of people throughout the country. As the ideology of transgenderism continues to progress in medical communities in spite of a growing number of studies that show that gender-transition surgeries do not effectively treat gender dysphoria, Christians must stand firm and speak the truth about God’s design for sexuality and gender. Advocating for the rights of medical professionals to exercise their individual liberties regarding the procedures that they choose to perform or forego is a matter of love of neighbor.   

Transgenderism is a distortion of God’s design for humanity, and as a result, is not conducive to human flourishing. Requiring doctors to sin against their conscience in a vain attempt to confirm a patient’s gender identity or perform an abortion in the state of New York violates not only the Hippocratic Oath but also the obligation of every human to love their neighbor. Christians should care about these cases because the dignity of humanity is at stake. In the case of these court decisions, Christians should pray for more decisions that confirm the dignity of humanity and protect the rights of medical professionals.  

Casey B. Hough

Casey B. Hough is lead pastor at Copperfield Church in Houston, Texas, and a Ph.D. student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He also blogs regularly at www.CaseyHough.com. Casey and his wife, Hannah, have three sons and two daughters.  Read More