"Great News!": Federal court voids Trump administration's discriminatory "conscience rule"

Opponents fear doctors and nurses would be given carte blanche to refuse to administer any medical procedure

By Andrea Germanos
Published November 8, 2019 11:00AM (EST)

This article originally appeared at Common Dreams. It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.

A federal judge on Wednesday voided the Trump administration's so-called "conscience rule" that opponents said would have given healthcare providers license to discriminate.

"Great news! A federal judge just blocked Trump's harmful and discriminatory refusal of care rule," Rep.Barbara Lee wrote on Twitter. "No one should be denied care because of a provider's personal beliefs."

Trump's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) promulgated the rule "arbitrarily and capriciously," wrote District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer in his 147-page ruling.

Engelmayer added that HHS's violations of federal law were "numerous, fundamental, and far-reaching," as NPR noted.

As Common Dreams previously reported,

Under the rule, opponents fear doctors and nurses would be given carte blanche to refuse to administer any medical procedure — with abortion care, gender confirmation surgery and hormone therapy for transgender patients, euthanasia and sterilization likely coming under attack.

Employers would also be able to refuse to provide insurance coverage for procedures they consider objectionable.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, who led a coalition of states and municipalities in suing the administration over the rule, praised the decision.

"Healthcare is a basic right that should never be subject to political games," James said in a statement.

"Once again, the courts have blocked the Trump administration from implementing a discriminatory rule that would only hurt Americans," she continued. "The refusal of care rule was an unlawful attempt to allow healthcare providers to openly discriminate and refuse to provide necessary healthcare to patients based on providers' 'religious beliefs or moral objections.' We will continue to use every tool at our disposal to protect access to healthcare and protect the rights of all individuals."

The rule had been set to take effect November 22.

Andrea Germanos

Andrea Germanos is a senior editor and staff writer at Common Dreams.

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