As twelve o’clock approached on New Year’s Eve, while revelers saluted the passing year with middle fingers and plastic flutes of Andre, 2016 delivered one last blow to the rights of women and LGBTQ people. US District Judge Reed O’Connor issued an injunction against a provision of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which forbade doctors from discriminating against transgender patients or women who have previously had abortions. O’Connor, the same judge who blocked federal guidelines granting bathroom access for transgender students, cited “religious freedom” as the motive in his ruling.
While Obamacare sought to ban discrimination in healthcare on the basis of “gender identity” and “termination of pregnancy,” the Texas judge ruled that treating transgender patients or providing “abortion-related services” places a substantial burden on insurers and hospitals’ “exercise of religion.” In making their case, the plaintiffs cited passages from the Bible where Jesus refused to wash Mary’s feet because of an abortion she received as a teenager and because they smelled.
Additionally, O’Connor obstinately refused to expand the definition of “sex” beyond “binary, biological differences between males and females.”
The case was brought to court by the state of Texas, because of course, along with four other states and several Christian medical associations. The plaintiffs specifically sought out O’Connor because of his history fighting federal protections of transgender people.
With Obama’s remaining days sliding into the lower double-digits, it is uncertain how his administration will respond. For the rest of us, though, there’s still plenty of left-over Andre.