Earlier this month, President Donald Trump issued new rules that further protect doctors, nurses and medical professionals who don’t want to be forced to do abortions or refer for them. Trump announced new regulations through the Department of Health and Human Services that will more effectively enforce existing federal laws that protect the conscience rights of healthcare providers.
Despite current law that has protected conscience rights for over 30 years, the lack of regulations resulted in confusion and a lack of awareness within the healthcare community, leaving healthcare personnel vulnerable to discrimination and forcing them to drop their specialties at a time of healthcare scarcity.
But 20 states have filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn those pro-life conscience protections for medical professionals, putting doctors and nurses at risk of being forced to do abortions or refer for them.
As LifeNews reported, the 440 pages of new regulations, issued by HHS Secretary Alex Azar, provide regulatory backbone to the First Amendment conscience rights of Americans working in the medical profession and will help ensure that no doctor or nurse will be be forced to violate their conscience while serving patients.
Although the Constitution and numerous federal laws provide robust protections for the conscience rights of medical professionals, these laws are being violated as doctors, nurses, and medical students are being compelled to participate in abortion. The regulations clarify what recourse is available to victims of discrimination under the law and what penalties the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Civil Rights may enforce for violations.
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As AP reports, pro-abortion attorneys general of 20 states filed suit to reverse these new pro-life regulations:
A Manhattan federal court lawsuit asked a judge to declare the rule unconstitutional and say it was passed in an arbitrary and capricious manner. In a separate lawsuit in San Francisco federal court, California sued as well, saying there was no evidence that the impact on patients was considered.
The California lawsuit said the rule issued by the Department of Health and Human Services creates a broad exemption for any individual, entity or provider to deny patients basic health care, even in emergencies.
“A provider can therefore deny service on the basis of a hunch or prejudice, without any supporting evidence, without notifying a supervisor of the denial of service, and without providing notice or alternative options and/or referrals to patients in need,” the lawsuit said.
The rule is scheduled to take effect in July. San Francisco had previously filed a similar action.
The New York suit was brought by Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; the District of Columbia; Hawaii; Chicago, Cook County and the state of Illinois; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Nevada; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York City and state; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; Vermont; Virginia; and Wisconsin.
New York Attorney General Letitia James said the new lawsuit is meant to stop the federal government from “giving health care providers free license to openly discriminate and refuse care to patients.”
She called it a “gross misinterpretation of religious freedom that will have devastating consequences on communities throughout the country.”
But the Trump administration said religious freedom is at the heart of protecting those medical professionals who don’t want to be required to be involved in abortion in some capacity.
“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,” a statement from OCR Director Roger Severino said. “Protecting conscience and religious freedom not only fosters greater diversity in health care, it’s the law.
“Laws prohibiting government funded discrimination against conscience and religious freedom will be enforced like every other civil rights law,” Severino explained.