NEW YORK — A federal judge has blocked a rule that would have made it easier for health providers to refuse service for religious reasons.
NPR reported Wednesday that U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer ruled on Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, exceeded its authority and “acted arbitrarily and capriciously” in promoting it.
The Trump administration proposed the rule a year ago. More than two dozen state and local governments, including Chicago, Cook County and Illinois, sued to stop the rule. The radio network those lawsuits were combined into the case Englemayer ruled on.
According to NPR, the judge said HHS’s violations of federal law ere “numerous, fundamental, and far-reaching” — and he vacated the rule entirely, just over two weeks before it was set to take effect Nov. 22.
“This rule ensures that healthcare 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,” said Roger Severino, director of the HHS’s Office for Civil Rights. “Protecting conscience and religious freedom not only fosters greater diversity in healthcare, it’s the law.”
Critics of the rule feared it would be used to allow discrimination against LGBTQ people, especially transgender people, and women.
Lambda Legal, which is involved in a separate lawsuit against the rule in California, celebrated the decision.
“In his decision to completely eliminate the Denial of Care Rule, Judge Paul A. Engelmayer has likely saved countless lives,” said Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Jamie Gliksberg. “Courts across the country are seeing the Denial of Care Rule for what it is, an egregious violation of the civil rights of and a direct attack on the lives of women, LGBT people, religious minorities and many others. The Denial of Care Rule was deeply rooted in animus against some of our most marginalized and vulnerable communities, and that has no place in our society. We are thrilled about today’s decision.”