Judge Rules Federally Funded Doctors and Nurses Must Ignore Conscience and Perform Abortions If Asked to Do So

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Posted: Nov 06, 2019 1:45 PM
Judge Rules Federally Funded Doctors and Nurses Must Ignore Conscience and Perform Abortions If Asked to Do So

Source: (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that President Donald J. Trump's Health and Human Services "conscience rule" that allows doctors, nurses, physicians assistant and more health care providers to refuse participation in abortion based on moral and religious grounds was unconstitutional. New York attorney General Letitia James led the lawsuit on behalf of 19 states and the District of Columbia, which argued that the policy allows Americans to "openly discriminate and refuse to provide necessary health care to patients based on providers’ ‘religious beliefs or moral objections.'" 

As explained by the Washington Post, "The rule, proposed by Trump’s Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights more than a year ago, would have protected 'conscience rights' of health care providers by boosting enforcement of at least two dozen laws that allow doctors, nurses, technicians and other providers to opt out of procedures such as abortions or gender-change procedures they object to on personal or religious grounds." 

"Health care is a basic right that should never be subject to political games," AG James said in the lawsuit. 

"The refusal of care rule was an unlawful attempt," she continued. "We will continue to use every tool at our disposal to protect access to health care and protect the rights of all individuals." 

U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer agreed with James' argument and ruled that the HHS policy, which would have stripped organizations' federal funding if they refused to comply with the "conscience rule," was too coercive. 

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

Stephanie Taub, Senior Counsel for First Liberty Institute, told Townhall that "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 health care professionals are free to work consistent with their religious beliefs while providing the best care to their patients," Taub added.