Advocates urge appeals court to uphold decision striking down denial of care rule


SAN FRANCISCO — A coalition of organizations on Wednesday urged the Ninth Court of Appeals to affirm a lower court ruling striking down the proposed denial of care rule.

The denial of care rule, which was issued in May 2019 by Health and Human Services, invites any health care worker – including doctors, nurses, EMTs, administrators, janitors and clerical staff – to deny medical treatment, information and services to patients because of personal religious or moral beliefs.

Lambda Legal, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit challenging the in May 2019.

In that earlier ruling in Nov. 2019, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Judge William H. Alsup found the proposed rule “saturated with error,” and struck the rule down in its entirety. Alsup became the third judge last November to vacate the rule, joining judges for the Eastern District of Washington and Southern District of New York.

“There is no rationale for breathing life into a rule Judge Alsup found ‘so saturated with error’ that he could find literally no aspect of it that passed constitutional muster,” said Camilla Taylor, Director of Constitutional Litigation for Lambda Legal, said in a press release. “Three separate federal judges last November recognized the Denial of Care Rule for what it is, an egregious and unconstitutional attack on women, LGBTQ people and other vulnerable populations. It deserved to be relegated to the dustbin of history, and it deserves to stay there.”

In addition to the County of Santa Clara, which runs an extensive health and hospital system that serves as a safety-net provider for the county’s 1.9 million residents, the plaintiffs in County of Santa Clara v. HHS include: the health providers Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown, Pa.; Center on Halsted in Chicago; Hartford GYN in Connecticut; Los Angeles LGBT Center; Mazzoni Center in Philadelphia, and Whitman-Walker Health in Washington, D.C.; the associations AGLP, GLMA, and Medical Students for Choice; and five doctors.

Read today’s filing here.



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