Court's rejection of HHS conscience rule decried

Strong criticism of judge who blocked doctors from opposing abortion Miguel Diaz | The BL 11/07/19 18:40

Judge Paul Englemayer

Strong criticism of judge who blocked doctors from opposing abortion Miguel Diaz | The BL 11/07/19 18:40 Judge Paul Englemayer

A federal judge in United States of America has overturned a Trump administration rule that protected the freedom of conscience of health care workers who are opposed to procedures such as abortion, suicide and gender-change surgeries that conflict with their moral or religious beliefs.

"Wherever the outermost line where persuasion gives way to coercion lies, the threat to pull all HHS funding here crosses it", wrote Engelmayer.

While Engelmayer described the rule as arbitrary and capricious, "nothing is more haphazard than giving the state unaccountable power to steamroll dissent", he said.

He said it should be left to Congress to decide whether to change the laws regarding employers' duty to accommodate religious objections. The rule restricted medical providers for procedures like abortion, assisted suicide or sterilization at hundreds of thousands of health organizations.

The decision mirrors a similar decision in NY on Wednesday that also would prevent medical workers from refusing to participate in abortions and other procedures.

Another challenge to this rule is now pending in California.

The rule that has been voided in its entirety, is expected to take effect on November 22.

"HHS, together with DOJ [the Department of Justice], is reviewing the court's opinion and so will not comment on the pending litigation at this time", the department said in an email to FierceHealthcare.

President Trump's conscience provision for medical providers was rejected by a NY federal Judge; a judge ordered the United States to administer mental healthcare to separated migrant families; a federal ban on flavored vaping products is near. The conscience rule proposed by his administration has drawn support from abortion opponents.

A federal judge in NY has ruled against President Donald Trump's "conscience rule" for healthcare providers criticized as allowing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

"This rule ensures 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, including the taking of human life", OCR Director Roger Severino said in a statement.

Engelmayer's decision was also welcomed by Planned Parenthood.

"Protecting conscience and religious freedom not only fosters greater diversity in health care, it's the law", said the official quoted by LifeNews. "This rule put patients' needs last".

He said the department's claim that there was a significant increase in complaints about workers being forced to violate their conscience was "flatly untrue".

The plaintiffs in Lambda Legal's lawsuit include the County of Santa Clara, which runs an extensive health and hospital system that serves as a safety-net provider for the county's 1.9 million residents; the health providers Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown, Pa., Center on Halsted in Chicago, Hartford GYN in Connecticut, Los Angeles LGBT Center, Mazzoni Center in Philadelphia, Trust Women Seattle and Whitman-Walker Health in Washington, D.C.; the associations AGLP, GLMA and Medical Students for Choice; and five doctors.

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