Judge strikes down new Trump rule on religious objections

National News

FILE – In this Tuesday, May 21, 2019 file photo, August Mulvihill, of Norwalk, Iowa, center, holds a sign depicting a wire clothes hanger during a rally at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa, to protest recent abortion bans. On Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019, a federal judge in New York struck down a rule letting health care clinicians object to providing abortions and other services on moral or religious grounds. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge on Wednesday struck down a new Trump administration rule that could open the way for more health care workers to refuse to participate in abortions or other procedures on moral or religious grounds.

U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer said the U.S. Health and Human Services Department overstepped its authority and went beyond existing law in issuing the rule. He also said that the measure could be costly, burdensome and damaging to emergency care and that the whole rationale for the rule was based on a lie.

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 HHS rule, he said, is a classic “solution in search of a problem.”

An HHS spokeswoman had no comment.

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

“Today, the Trump administration has been blocked from providing legal cover for discrimination,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president of Planned Parenthood. “As the federal district court made clear, the administration acted outside its authority and made false claims to try to justify this rule.”

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.”

But Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, called the ruling “absurd mush” and urged the Trump administration to appeal.

Health care institutions have long relied on federal Conscience Provisions first created in 1973 and amended since then that protected health care professionals from carrying out services that conflict with their religious or moral beliefs.

The new HHS rule broadens the list of health care personnel who can refuse to participate, expanding it to those who counsel, refer, train or make arrangements for a medical procedure.

It also restricts the ability of employers to inquire about employees’ objections and broadens the definition of health care entities to include pharmacists and medical laboratories.

Thus, the judge warned, a hospital or clinic receptionist who schedules appointments, an elevator operator or an ambulance driver could refuse on moral or religious grounds to do their jobs.

He said the rule could force some health care employers to double or triple staff, particularly during emergencies.

“These limits have clear potential to inhibit the employer’s ability to organize workplace arrangements to avoid inefficiencies and dislocations,” Engelmayer said.

Engelmayer, who was appointed by Democratic President Barack Obama, said HHS lacked authority to create major portions of the rule, including a provision that said a health care institution’s federal funding can be cut off for violating the measure.

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

___

Associated Press writers Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar in Washington and Jennifer Peltz in New York contributed to this report.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Recent Videos

Amber's Monday Morning One Minute Forecast 11/18

Thumbnail for the video titled "Amber's Monday Morning One Minute Forecast 11/18"

Monday: Increasing Wind With Some Afternoon Sun

Thumbnail for the video titled "Monday: Increasing Wind With Some Afternoon Sun"

Synchronized Skating

Thumbnail for the video titled "Synchronized Skating"

Dickinson State Football

Thumbnail for the video titled "Dickinson State Football"

Top Plays

Thumbnail for the video titled "Top Plays"

ND Outdoors 11-17

Thumbnail for the video titled "ND Outdoors 11-17"

Suspect Loose

Thumbnail for the video titled "Suspect Loose"

Unattended Cars

Thumbnail for the video titled "Unattended Cars"

Recycling

Thumbnail for the video titled "Recycling"

Berthold Holiday Drive

Thumbnail for the video titled "Berthold Holiday Drive"

Robert's One Minute Forecast 11-17

Thumbnail for the video titled "Robert's One Minute Forecast 11-17"

Baby Event

Thumbnail for the video titled "Baby Event"

Hospice Tree Lighting

Thumbnail for the video titled "Hospice Tree Lighting"

Ryan Fans

Thumbnail for the video titled "Ryan Fans"

College Football

Thumbnail for the video titled "College Football"

WDA Volleyball

Thumbnail for the video titled "WDA Volleyball"

Girl's State Swimming

Thumbnail for the video titled "Girl's State Swimming"

Holiday Cooking

Thumbnail for the video titled "Holiday Cooking"

Winter Pet Safety

Thumbnail for the video titled "Winter Pet Safety"
More Video

KX News Trending Stories

Don't Miss

Daily Pledge

More Daily Pledge