Judge strikes down new Trump rule on religious objections

Henrietta Strickland
November 8, 2019

A federal judge in US 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.

Judge Orders Mental Health Services for Separated Migrant Families On Tuesday, US District Judge John Kronstadt ordered the government to provide mental health services to thousands of migrant parents and children who experienced psychological harm due to the Trump administration's practice of separating families, according to The New York Times. The judge also indicated that the basis for the enactment of the measure, which is that many doctors denounced that they were not allowed to present their conscientious objection, is actually "false".

Rosie Phillips Davis, president of the American Psychological Association, said the HHS rule "could have jeopardized the health of some of our most vulnerable populations, including women, LGBT people and people with HIV or AIDS".

Nineteen states, the District of Columbia, three local governments, health organizations and others had sued to block the rule from taking effect November 22, arguing that it would be discriminatory and would interfere with people's access to health care.

Sasse said the Trump administration must continue to defend the "basic rights of conscience" of citizenship, even if it means going to the Supreme Court.

"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.

He said it should be left to Congress to decide whether to change the laws regarding employers' duty to accommodate religious objections.

"The Court therefore holds that HHS failed adequately to consider two important aspects of the problem-the Rule's application to emergencies, and the Rule's interplay with Title VII".

The Hill noted the rule was part of a series of policies outlined by HHS's Office for Civil Rights to reshape the agency to align with religious conservatives.

Engelmayer extended his decision to the entire country, not just the states and cities that filed suit in NY.

The violations committed by the HHS rule, said the judge, "are numerous, fundamental, and far-reaching".

Lambda Legal and co-counsel also argued that the rule is unconstitutional because it advances specific religious beliefs in violation of the First Amendment; violates patients' rights to privacy, liberty and equal dignity as guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment; and chills patients' speech and expression in violation of the First Amendment, all to the detriment of patients' health and well-being.

"The Rule stands to affect a large portion of the economy", wrote Engelmayer. HHS estimates that it will cost around $1 billion to implement the Rule over its first five years, not including public health costs....

"The Rule is also politically significant", said Engelmayer. "It applies across the vast health care industry".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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