Your Doctor Can Now Refuse To Treat You If You've Had An Abortion

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Under the Affordable Care Act, known colloquially as Obamacare, your doctor cannot discriminate against you based on sex, gender, or previous termination of pregnancy. Since the ACA covers almost every healthcare provider in the U.S., everyone should be able to access safe medical treatment, right?

Not according to U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor, who has ruled that doctors can refuse to see women who have had abortions and transgendered individuals based on "religious freedom."

As Slate points out this ruling is "bizarre" based on the fact that it "fundamentally alters the balance between medical treatment and religious freedom in the United States."

This ruling purports to protect religious people from doing something they don't agree with based on their freedom of religion, which is a protection people should have. However, that protection allows discrimination against other people, effectively putting religious freedom ahead of a patient's rights and the ability to access sound medical treatment.

It isn't necessarily a bizarre ruling for Judge O'Connor though, who has a history of opposing transgender rights. His conservative view is believed to be the reason why the state of Texas, along with four other states and several Christian medical associations, brought this case to his court.

O'Connor has shown he prefers a limited legal interpretation of gender discrimination in past rulings, such as his ruling blocking trans friendly bathroom guidelines, acknowledging it only as being against a man for being a man, or a woman for being a woman.

What's particularly troubling here is that the judge invoked the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), the same rule that allowed the Hobby Lobby case to proceed. This ruling has expanded that precedent, which many feared would be the case.

With a new administration that has not only promised to dismantle the ACA but has picked a cabinet that has a history of discriminatory laws and positions on rights for women and LGBTQ, this ruling may be a sign of what's to come.
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