A federal judge in New York has voided the Trump administration’s “conscience rule” that would have allowed healthcare workers to abstain from participating in abortions or providing other services such as contraception or gender transition procedures due to moral or religious objections.
In a 147-page decision issued on Wednesday and cited by Reuters, U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer in Manhattan said the rule that was set to go into effect on Nov. 22 was unconstitutionally coercive because it would let the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services withhold billions of dollars of funding from hospitals, clinics, universities and other healthcare providers that did not comply.
“Wherever the outermost line where persuasion gives way to coercion lies, the threat to pull all HHS funding here crosses it,” Engelmayer wrote.
The judge also noted that the rule was “arbitrary and capricious,” and conflicted with federal laws governing the obligations of employers to accommodate workers’ religious views, and hospitals to provide emergency treatment to poor patients.
Stephanie Taub, senior counsel for First Liberty Institute, the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to protecting religious liberty for all Americans, said that the judge’s decision now leaves healthcare workers “vulnerable.”
“This decision leaves health care professionals across America vulnerable to being forced to perform, facilitate, or refer for procedures that violate their conscience. The Trump Administration’s HHS protections would ensure that healthcare professionals are free to work consistent with their religious beliefs while providing the best care to their patients.”
The Health and Human Services Department issued a final rule earlier this year to ensure “that health care entities and professionals won’t be bullied out of the health care field because they decline to participate in actions that violate their conscience,” as stated by HHS’ Office for Civil Rights Director Roger Severino.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair