Judge Strikes Down Trump Pro-Life Rule Protecting Doctors From Being Forced to Do Abortions

National   Steven Ertelt   Nov 20, 2019   |   10:20AM   

Another federal judge has struck down pro-life rules implemented by President Donald Trump protecting medical professionals such as doctors or nurses from being forced to kill babies in abortion or make referrals for abortions.

Earlier this year, 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.

In early November, District Judge Paul Engelmayer invalidated the rule on multiple grounds, including a finding that it violated the Constitution’s spending clause by allowing the administration to cut off funds approved by Congress to providers who do not comply with the rule by forcing employees to perform services to which they object.

Late Tuesday, another federal judge, located in liberal San Francisco, struck down Trump’s pro-life rule. U.S. District Judge William Alsup claimed Trump’s pro-life rule is invalid because it would let ambulance drivers refuse to take a woman for an emergency abortion — even though doctors have certified that killing a baby in an abortion is never medically necessary.

Under the new rule, Alsup wrote, “an ambulance driver would be free, on religious or moral grounds, to eject a patient en route to a hospital upon learning that the patient needed an emergency abortion.

Alsup is the third federal judge in the nation to strike down the rule. Similar decisions were issued by judges in New York City and Spokane, Wash., on Nov. 6 and 7.

Alsup ruled in three lawsuits filed by the city of San Francisco, the state of California and Santa Clara County together with a group of doctors and clinics.

If not blocked, the measure would have gone into effect on Nov. 22.

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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.

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.