The “Right of Conscience Rule” that was originally passed under George W. Bush’s administration made it possible for healthcare workers to deny services to patients based on a conflict of personal beliefs (such as religion). Then in 2011, Barack Obama rescinded this right. Recently, Donald Trump and the HHS (Department of Health & Human Services) re-implemented the rule, trying to protect healthcare workers once again who refuse services to people because of their personal beliefs. Such services have historically included gender reassignment surgeries or abortions.
However, a federal judge in New York, U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer has vacated this rule, and is the first of court ruling regarding the “conscience rule” among many other lawsuits of it’s kind. Judge Engelmayer stated that the Trump administration “issued the rule in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act,” as well as the “Administrative Procedures Act,” and called these violations “numerous, fundamental, and far-reaching.”
Jamie Gliksberg, senior council with Lambda Legal shared his thoughts about Judge Engelmayer’s decision, that it likely saved many lives. Further, Gliksberg commented, “Courts across the country are seeing the denial of care rule for what it is, an egregious violation of the civil rights and a direct attack on the lives of women, LGBT people, religious minorities and many others. The denial of care rule was deeply rooted in animus against some of our most marginalized and vulnerable communities, and that has no place in our society. We are thrilled about today’s decision.”