Texas AG asks Federal Judge to Remove Transgender Protections From Obamacare

Texas Attorney General Ken PaxtonPhoto: Tony Gutierrez/AP

Mila Madison

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a brief in federal court to remove the rules barring discrimination based on gender identity and women’s abortion rights from the Affordable Care Act on Monday. Texas has been joined by seven other states including Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.

The brief seeks to remove regulations issued in 2016 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the Obama Administration that defined sex discrimination as it relates to the ACA to include refusing to provide insurance coverage or medical treatment to transgender individuals or women who'd decided to seek an abortion. The regulations were originally held up from being implemented by U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor, who issued an injunction in 2016. Now Paxton seeks to remove them permanently.

"The federal government has no right to force Texans to pay for surgical procedures intended to change a person's sex," Paxton said in a statement. "Our multi-state coalition is asking the U.S. District Court to issue a summary judgment to protect medical professionals who believe that engaging in such procedures or treatment violates their Hippocratic Oath, their conscience, or their personal religious beliefs, which are protected by the Constitution and federal law."

The federal government has been expected to rescind the protections by redefining the definition of term “sex,” but it has yet to do so formally. It is said that Paxton and other conservative leaders have been angered by the delay. In Monday’s, they told O'Connor they shouldn't have to wait for federal bureaucrats to issue a new interpretation of the rules.

“Two years and nine status reports by the federal government later, there has been no progress,” the brief states. “Thus, it is time for the Rule to be set aside and wiped permanently from the Code of Federal Regulations.”

Paxton, who won re-election this past November, has historically campaigned against the rights of the transgender community. With the help of Judge Reed O'Connor in August 2016, he was successful in getting an injunction issued against Obama administration’s restroom and locker room guidance for transgender students in schools. He was also a proponent of the failed Texas “bathroom bill” SB 6, which would have forced the transgender residents of Texas to use restrooms in public schools, government buildings and public universities based on their assigned sex at birth.