Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel praised a district court for its decision to block a Trump Administration rule that would have allowed health care workers to refuse certain services on religious liberty grounds.
The new rule was issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in May and was designed to give health care providers more flexibility in refusing to provide services like abortion, assisted suicide, or sterilization. Under the rule, medical workers would have been allowed to refuse services that conflict with their “religious beliefs or moral convictions.”
A coalition of 23 states, cities, and municipalities, including Michigan and Minnesota, joined the lawsuit to block the new rule from being implemented. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted the coalition’s motion for summary judgment to permanently block the “refusal of care” rule.
“The court’s finding that the rule was promulgated arbitrarily and capriciously calls into question the validity and integrity of the rulemaking venture itself,” U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer wrote in his Wednesday decision. “Indeed, the Court has found that HHS’s stated justification for undertaking rulemaking in the first place—a purported ‘significant increase’ in civilian complaints relating to the conscience provisions—was factually untrue.”
The new rule was scheduled to take effect on November 22.
“If implemented, this rule would have done nothing but put Americans’ access to health care in jeopardy,” Attorney General Nessel said in a statement. “Health care treatment should be dictated by approved medical standards and a patient’s decision about the type of care he or she wishes to receive, not the personal beliefs of those who hold themselves out as medical professionals. This decision is not only a victory for this coalition, but for each resident we serve.”
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison joined Nessel in praising the ruling, calling it a “win for everyone.”
“I believe healthcare is a human right and discrimination violates human rights. The Trump Administration believes it’s OK for some Minnesotans to get sick, suffer, or die just because of who they are,” Ellison claimed. “I stepped in to protect Minnesotans against his rule because that’s fundamentally wrong.”
The American Civil Liberties Union also sued to block the new rule and applauded the Wednesday decision as “an important victory against the Trump Administration’s cruel and unlawful attempts to roll back critical patient protections.”
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