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(LifeSiteNews) — A federal court ruled Friday that doctors and hospitals cannot be forced to perform gender mutilating surgeries, echoing a similar recent court ruling in a striking win for religious freedom.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Catholic groups’ free exercise of religion in refusing to perform or insure so-called “gender transition” procedures, citing a prior district court ruling in the same case which found that “intrusion upon the Catholic Plaintiffs’ exercise of religion is sufficient to show irreparable harm.”

The Religious Sisters of Mercy, the Catholic Benefits Association, and other Catholic entities had sued in the face of the Biden administration’s threat of “multimillion-dollar penalties” for alleged “discrimination” on the basis of “sex.”

The Eighth Circuit cited an August ruling, Franciscan Alliance v. Becerra, which noted that Section 1557 under Obamacare “defined sex discrimination to include discrimination on the basis of… ‘gender identity,’” according to a 2016 federal regulation.

The Court of Appeals further pointed out that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has interpreted such “discrimination” to include “sex stereotyping,” which it defines as “includ[ing] the expectation that individuals will consistently identify with only one gender…”

This HHS stance renders Section 1557 as well as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which “prohibits employers from discriminating against an applicant or employee ‘because of such individual’s…sex,’” potential threats to any doctor or medical group opposed to gender mutilation.

This is despite the fact that, as Becket Law Senior Counsel Luke Goodrich has pointed out, “The plaintiffs are Catholic nuns, clinics, a university, and hospitals who gladly serve ALL patients regardless of sex or gender identity” and “provide top-notch care to transgender patients for everything from cancer to the common cold.”

Thus, the Eighth Circuit upheld a previous district court ruling that “a substantial burden weighs on the exercise of religion” “[b]ecause the interpretations of Section 1557 and Title VII threaten to penalize the Catholic [p]laintiffs for adhering to their beliefs.”

The Court of Appeals also upheld the district court’s ruling “that the [Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA)] entitles the . . . [p]laintiffs to permanent injunctive relief from the provision or coverage of gender-transition procedures.”

Goodrich remarked Friday, “Today’s ruling protects patients, aligns with current medical research, and ensures doctors aren’t forced to violate their religious beliefs and medical judgment. This is a victory for common-sense, conscience, and sound medical judgment.”

“Gender-transition procedures not only go against many healthcare professionals’ religious beliefs, but can be deeply harmful to patients,” Goodrich continued.

Indeed, many medical experts are decrying gender “transition” mutilation surgeries and cross-sex hormones as unsafe and even as “child abuse.”

For example, the Florida Department of Health has noted there is “a lack of conclusive evidence” for “gender transitioning” and “the potential for long-term, irreversible effects,” and noted that systematic reviews on hormonal interventions “show a trend of low-quality evidence, small sample sizes, and medium to high risk of bias.”

Detransitioners are also increasingly speaking out about their deep regrets over their attempts to “switch” their sex and its physically and psychologically harmful consequences.