Judge Reed O’Connor issues controversial injunction on religious rights

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Maryam Mohamed
 Staff Writer

 

In late December 2016, Texas Judge Reed O’Connor issued an injunction against a mandate that protects transgendered and abortion related Obamacare protections.

 

Judge O’Connor’s decision contradicted a previous legislation listed under the Affordable Care Act, which prevented doctors from discriminating against transgender patients and women who have had abortions performed on them.  

 

O’Connor’s claims that the nondiscrimination rule listed under the Affordable Care Act violated religious freedom. Under his ruling, if a doctor had a transgender patient or a woman who had an abortion and the doctor cited religious grounds in refusing to treat them, then the doctor should not be legally required to provide them any service.

 

“The government’s usage of the term ‘sex’ in the years since Title IX’s enactment bolsters the conclusion that its common meaning in 1972 and 2010 referred to the binary, biological differences between males and females,” O’Connor wrote in his 46 page opinion. “Prior to the passage of the ACA in 2010 and for more than forty years after the passage of Title IX in 1972, no federal court or agency had concluded sex should be defined to include gender identity.”

 

White House speaker Katie Hill, expressed her extreme disapproval of the new legislation.

 

“Today’s decision is a setback, but hopefully a temporary one, since all Americans – regardless of their sex, gender identity or sexual orientation – should have access to quality, affordable health care free from discrimination,” Hill stated.

 

Judge O’Connor also passed a similar court order in August in order to prevent transgender students from having access to the restroom of their choice.

 

O’Connor stated that, “specifically permits educational institutions to provide separate toilets, locker rooms, and showers based on sex, provided that the separate facilities are comparable.”

 

Moreover, O’Connor wrote that “this case presents the difficult issue of balancing the protection of students’ rights and that of personal privacy when using school bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, and other intimate facilities, while ensuring that no student is unnecessarily marginalized while attending school.”

 

In addition to this injunction, Reed O’Connor voiced that his opinion on HB2, a bill that discriminates against minority groups, “should not necessarily interfere with litigation currently pending before other federal courts on this subject regardless of the state law.”

 

In 2015, O’Connor issued a legislation that prevented federal rules from extending medical leave benefits to gay couples.

 

Chris Brook, legal director for the North Carolina ACLU, stated that the Texas decision was simply “disappointing.”

 

“The district court in Texas expressly recognized that its decision should not interfere with other pending federal court cases on this issue,” Brook said. “HB2 continues to harm our clients and all transgender North Carolinians, and we are looking forward to a decision on our request to have the anti-transgender provisions of this law blocked while our case proceeds.”

 

Campbell University law professor Greg Wallace says the Texas ruling solidifies the case for Gov. Pat McCrory and the other advocates of HB2. He cites Reed O’Connor’s ruling as evidence to support his claim.

 

Judge O’Connor said that, “The Obama administration’s interpretation of Title IX undermines the bodily privacy that the regulation was designed to protect.”



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