Democratic states, counties, sue Trump admin over religious protections rule

Democratic states, counties, sue Trump admin over religious protections rule
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A coalition of 23 Democrat-led states, counties and municipalities is suing the Trump administration for a final rule that protects health care providers who refuse to provide care on the basis of their religious beliefs.

The lawsuit, announced Tuesday, is led by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) and seeks to have the rule declared unconstitutional, as well as a court order to prevent it from going into effect.

It is the second lawsuit against the administration’s so-called conscience protection rule. San Francisco announced a similar lawsuit earlier this month. 

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The new complaint called the final rule “an unprecedented and unlawful expansion” of nearly 30 federal statutes that will prevent the plaintiffs from administering their own health care systems.

“The federal government is giving health care providers free license to openly discriminate and refuse care to patients — a gross misinterpretation of religious freedom that will have devastating consequences on communities throughout the country,” James said in a statement.

The rule was announced earlier this month by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to award National Medal of Arts to actor Jon Voight Sondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report MORE during the National Day of Prayer, but was officially published Tuesday. It’s scheduled to take effect on July 22.

The rule aims to protect health care workers and institutions from having to violate their religious or moral beliefs by participating in abortions, providing contraception, sterilization or other procedures.

Republicans and anti-abortion groups often complained that the Obama administration did not enforce federal laws that protect health workers and institutions from having to violate their religious or moral beliefs by participating in abortions or other procedures.

The lawsuit argues that the final rule will allow any provider to make such refusals, from ambulance drivers to emergency room doctors to receptionists to customer service representatives at insurance companies.

The lawsuit also alleges that the states and counties could lose billions of dollars in federal health care funding if they don’t comply.

“States and cities rely upon those funds for countless programs to promote the public health of their residents, including Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, HIV/AIDS and STD prevention and education, and substance abuse and mental health treatment,” James said.