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Texas judge: Mandated PrEP coverage violates religious freedom
2022-09-08

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On Sept. 7, a federal judge in Texas (U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor) ruled that the government cannot force a Christian-owned company to cover HIV preventative medication (HIV PrEP) because it violates their religious freedom under federal law, according to various media outlets.

HIV PrEP—which is more than 90% effective in preventing the transmission of HIV—is recommended for adults who are at high risk of getting HIV, which includes men who have sex with other men, Axios reported.

The plaintiffs in the case—six individuals and two Christian-owned businesses, Braidwood Management and Kelley Orthodontics—argued that they should not be mandated to offer coverage of HIV PrEP because they did not want to encourage "homosexual behavior."

Under the Affordable Care Act, most health insurance plans must cover certain recommended preventive services, including HIV testing for people aged 15-65 and HIV PrEP for adults who are at high risk of getting HIV.

The Los Angeles LGBT Center was among the entities protesting the ruling. In a statement Windy City Times received, the center said it "categorically condemned" the decision. It added, "While the ruling is incredibly disturbing, we first want our community and allies to understand that its scope is currently limited to Braidwood, the Texas employer named in the lawsuit, and its 70 employees. It also undermines the bipartisan plans of the United States government to end HIV by 2030.

"However, there are other potential implications to this ruling, which may set a dangerous precedent for how the government can support the refusal of coverage for health services based on individual religious beliefs. We must remain vigilant of this ruling being used as a precedent to deny individuals access to medications, which includes PrEP but can also be inclusive of contraceptive care. This further underscores how the fights for reproductive justice and LGBTQ+ equality are intrinsically linked."


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