USA – Trump’s ‘conscience rule’ for health providers blocked by federal judge

On 6 November 2019, a US federal judge voided theTrump administration’s so-called ‘conscience rule’, which would have allowedhealthcare providers to refuse to participate in abortions, sterilisations orother types of care they disagreed with on religious or moral grounds.

The judge said the administration’s central justification ofa “significant increase” in complaints related to conscience violations was“flatly untrue. This alone makes the agency’s decision to promulgate the rulearbitrary and capricious.”

The lawsuit was brought by New York State AttorneyGeneral Letitia James and nearly two dozen other mostly Democratic-run statesand municipalities and health advocacy groups.They argued that therule illegally favouredthe personal views of healthcare workers over theneeds of patients, and threatened to hobble the ability of state-run healthcarefacilities to provide effective care.

The rule had been set to go into effect in lateNovember. US District Judge Paul Engelmayer in Manhattan declared the rule unconstitutionalin a 147-page decision. It was part of the Trumpadministration’s efforts tobolster the rights of religious health providersandrestrict abortion access.

“We are heartened by today’s ruling, and we will not stopfighting to prioritize patients’ need for standard medical care overhealth-care personnel’s personal religious or moral beliefs,” the NationalFamily Planning and Reproductive Health Association said in a statement.

SOURCE: WashingtonPost, by Yasmeen Abutaleb, 6 November 2019 + PHOTO by Mary Altaffer/AP