Doctors Can Now Deny Treatment To Women Who've Had Abortions

“Religious freedom” is officially worth more than human lives

Image via Getty

On Saturday, while most of us were setting our sights on the future, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor did his best to set the clock back at least sixty years. In a verdict that prioritizes one’s right to exercise religious beliefs over another’s right to receive medical treatment, Judge O’Connor ruled that doctors can refuse to treat transgender patients and women who’ve had abortions—all in the name of “religious freedom.”

The Affordable Care Act, which affects essentially every health care provider in the country, bans health care professionals from denying treatment based on sex. The Department of Health and Human Services aimed to clarify and expand this ambiguous clause by enacting a regulation that forbid doctors from discriminating on the basis of “gender identity” and “termination of pregnancy” as well. By blocking this regulation through the lens of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Judge O’Connor has allowed health care professionals and insurance companies nationwide to discriminate as they see fit.

As Slate writer Mark Joseph Stern notes, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that as one of the plaintiffs, Texas (along with four other states and a few Christian organizations) brought the case in front of Judge O’Connor specifically because of his reputation for infringing on transgender rights. You may even remember him as the judge who shamelessly prevented legislation that would have made it safer for transgender students to use the bathroom of their choosing.

As several outlets have pointed out, this decision expands the precedent set by the Supreme Court’s Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision, which allows businesses to enforce religious beliefs on employees by denying health care coverage for birth control. For those who refuse to believe the president-elect will dismantle the ACA once he takes office and leave 20 million patients medically stranded in the process, it’s time to start recognizing there will be vast consequences to the nonsensical decisions enforced by a radicalized GOP.

Going by Judge O’Connor’s logic, no room can exist for disagreement, even if that means putting lives directly at risk. We’re also left with the depressing irony that conservatives are willing to risk the safety of fellow Americans for the sake of a religious person’s conscience. Even worse, it seems anti-abortion adherents would rather let an adult human being die than face uncomfortable truths. Make no mistake—this ruling does not merely privilege one set of rights over another, it reinforces a hierarchy that puts white, Christian, heteronormative lives above all others while actively disenfranchising those who fall outside of that category. That, in no uncertain terms, is unconscionable.


When former Pittsburgh Steelers' center Mike Webster committed suicide in 2002, his death began to raise awareness of the brain damage experienced by NFL football players. A 2017 study found that 99% of deceased NFL players had a degenerative brain disease known as CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). Only one out of 111 former football players had no sign of CTE. It turns out, some of the risks of traumatic brain injury experienced by heavily padded adults playing at a professional level also exist for kids with developing brains playing at a recreational level. The dangers might not be as intense as what the adults go through, but it can have some major life-long consequences.

A new PSA put out by the Concussion Legacy Foundation raises awareness of the dangers of tackle football on developing brains, comparing it to smoking. "Tackle football is like smoking. The younger I start, the longer I am exposed to danger. You wouldn't let me smoke. When should I start tackling?" a child's voice can be heard saying in the PSA as a mother lights up a cigarette for her young son.

Keep Reading Show less
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

On Tuesday morning, President Trump tweeted about some favorable economic numbers, claiming that annual household income is up, unemployment is low, and housing prices are high.

Now, just imagine how much better those numbers would be if the country wasn't mired in an economy-killing trade war with China, bleeding out trillion-dollar-a-year debts, and didn't suffer from chaotic leadership in the Oval Office?

At the end of tweet, came an odd sentence, "Impeach the Pres."

Keep Reading Show less

October is domestic violence awareness month and when most people think of domestic violence, they imagine mostly female victims. However, abuse of men happens as well – in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. But some are taking it upon themselves to change all that.

Keep Reading Show less

At this point most reasonable people agree that climate change is a serious problem. And while a lot of good people are working on solutions, and we're all chipping in by using fewer plastic bags, it's also helpful to understand where the leading causes of the issue stem from. The list of 20 leading emitters of carbon dioxide by The Guardian newspaper does just that.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via International Labour Organization / Flickr and Michael Moore / Facebook

Before the release of "The Joker" there was a glut of stories in the media about the film's potential to incite violence.

The FBI issued a warning, saying the film may inspire violence from a group known as the Clowncels, a subgroup of the involuntarily celibate or Incel community.

Incels an online subculture who believe they are unable to attract a sexual partner. The American nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center describes them as "part of the online male supremacist ecosystem" that is included in its list of hate groups.

Keep Reading Show less