ACLU Response to Appeal Seeking to Reinstate the Trump Administration’s Health Care Refusal Rule

January 3, 2020 3:45 pm

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NEW YORK — The Trump Administration announced today it would appeal a U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York decision striking down a rule to allow health care institutions and providers to deny patients information and treatment based on personal religious or moral beliefs.

“The Trump administration relied on bogus statistics and misleading claims to justify this unlawful rule,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, senior staff attorney with the Reproductive Freedom Project at the ACLU. “Everyone is entitled to their religious beliefs, but religious beliefs do not include a license to discriminate, to deny essential care, or to cause harm to others. It is shameful that the government agency that is supposed to protect, not undermine, patient health is continuing to defend this illegal and dangerous rule.”

The rule would dramatically expand the ability of health care institutions and workers to withhold medical services and even information from patients based on moral or religious objection to the care, without any regard for the wellbeing of their patients or public safety. In its November decision, the Court characterized the Trump Administration rule as “a classic solution in search of a problem,” noting that the administration’s repeated claims that the rule was necessary to redress an increase in violations of the federal ‘conscience’ statutes was “flatly untrue.”

The American Civil Liberties Union and NYCLU lawsuit was brought on behalf of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association and Public Health Solutions. The ACLU lawsuit was one of multiple challenges to the rule, including from a coalition of 23 cities and states led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, and another from Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the National Women’s Law Center, and Democracy Forward.

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