President Donald Trump and Republicans have been fighting for years to repeal ObamaCare, but have hit countless roadblocks with gridlock in Congress and liberal activist judges across the country saving it.
But things took a turn this week when a federal judge dropped the gavel and ruled “yes,” giving Trump supporters a huge victory.
Judge Reed O’Connor in the Northern District of Texas overturned ObamaCare protections for transgender patients on Tuesday, ruling that a 2016 policy violates the religious freedom of Christian providers.
Opponents of the law argued that it “forces insurers to pay for abortions and compels doctors to perform gender transition services even if they disagree with those services on moral or medical grounds,” The Hill reported.
That’s why O’Connor ruled that this particular portion of Obamacare violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a bill that, ironically, was signed into law by President Bill Clinton.
RFRA states that the federal government “shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” unless it proves the burden would further “a compelling governmental interest” and “is the least restrictive means” of doing so.
O’Connor’s ruling is likely to be appealed. The ObamaCare rule was initially challenged in court in 2016 by a group of Christian providers called the Franciscan Alliance as well as five conservative states.
They argued that the rule forces insurers to pay for abortions and compels doctors to perform gender transition services even if they disagree with those services on moral or medical grounds.
O’Connor agreed and issued a nationwide injunction against enforcing the rule. The injunction meant that even though the provisions remained in effect, the Obama administration could not sue a hospital or provider for not complying.
President Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services initially defended the rule, but the Trump administration decided to drop its defense and argued the rule should be sent back to the agency to be rewritten.
The Trump administration is working on a regulatory fix and has issued a proposed rule that would scrap ObamaCare’s definition of “sex discrimination” to remove protections for gender identity.
Advocates argue removing those protections will allow health care providers, hospitals and insurers to discriminate against transgender patients.
In 2010, the Supreme Court narrowly ruled 5-4 that Obamacare was constitutional, which paved the way for it to become the law of the land.
However, the nation’s highest court has a much different ideological bent now, especially given that President Trump has successfully nominated two conservatives to the bench: Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
If the case reaches the U.S. Supreme Court, which is very possible, it could be struck down as unconstitutional.
Assuming that happens, Congress would then have no choice but to replace the healthcare law and pass it in both chambers.