State, local governments sue over new HHS ‘religious objection’ rule

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(Photo by Zackary Drucker as part of Broadly's Gender Spectrum Collection)


(Photo by Zackary Drucker as part of Broadly’s Gender Spectrum Collection)

NEW YORK — States and local governments are suing the Trump administration to stop enforcement of the Department of Health and Human Services new “religious objection” rule.

The rule, finalized at the beginning of May, would allow healthcare providers and organizations to refuse to provide types of care because of “religious objections.” It protects anyone who refuses to provide services related to provide, participate in, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for, services such as abortion, sterilization, assisted suicide or others. Religious objection also happens to be a major reason for refusing treatment of LGBTQ people, especially if they’re transgender. The rule is set to go into effect on July 22.

Reuters reported that two dozen states and municipalities are part of the lawsuit. Chicago, Cook County and the state of Illinois are among the governments suing. The suit is lead by the New York Attorney General. California filed its own lawsuit in San Francisco.

“The federal government is giving health care providers free license to openly discriminate and refuse care to patients,” NY Attorney General Letitia James told Reuters in a statement.

Roger Severino, director of HHS’ Office for Civil Rights, told the news service that “The rule gives life and enforcement tools to conscience protection laws that have been on the books for decades. HHS finalized the conscience rule after more than a year of careful consideration and after analyzing over 242,000 public comments. We will defend the rule vigorously.”

The cases are New York et al v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 19-04676; and California v. Azar et al, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 19-02769.



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