Federal Judge Strikes Down Rule Allowing Clinicians to Object to Abortions for Moral or Religious Reasons

Abortion rights campaigners attend a rally in New York City on May 21, 2019.Jeenah Moon / Reuters file

A federal judge in New York on Wednesday struck down a new Trump administration rule that would have allowed health care clinicians to refuse to provide abortions for moral or religious reasons.

U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer of the Southern District of New York rejected the federal rule after women’s groups, health organizations and multiple states sued the Department of Health and Human Services, arguing the exemptions were unconstitutional.

Engelmayer ruled that the so-called conscience rule was too coercive, allowing HHS to withhold billions in federal funding unless health care providers complied.

“Wherever the outermost line where persuasion gives way to coercion lies, the threat to pull all HHS funding here crosses it,” Engelmayer wrote in a 147-page decision, according to Reuters. He added that the rule was “arbitrary and capricious.”

The ruling came in three consolidated lawsuits, according to The Associated Press. One consisted of 19 states, the District of Columbia and three local governments.

“The refusal of care rule was an unlawful attempt to allow health care providers to openly discriminate and refuse to provide necessary health care to patients based on providers’ ‘religious beliefs or moral objections,’” New York Attorney General Letitia James, who led the lawsuit for the states, said. “We will continue to use every tool at our disposal to protect access to health care and protect the rights of all individuals.”

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Source: NBC