Advocates sue Trump administration over 'conscience protection' rule

Advocates sue Trump administration over 'conscience protection' rule
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A coalition of advocacy groups on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, becoming the latest organizations to challenge the administration’s new rule that allows health care providers to refuse to provide care because of their religious beliefs.

The groups, which include the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA), argued that the rule “encourages and authorizes discrimination by unlawfully granting a wide swath of institutions and individuals broad new rights to refuse to provide health care services and information.”

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The lawsuit claims the rule’s sweeping terms are also likely to embolden refusals to provide a range of other health services.

The final rule “imposes a virtually absolute obligation to accommodate employee objections, regardless of impact, giving employees carte blanche to refuse to do core aspects of their job and yet stay in their role,” the lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit asks a federal judge in the Southern District of New York to declare the rule unconstitutional and block it from taking effect.

The rule is scheduled to take effect July 22. Its proponents say it 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.

Tuesday’s lawsuit is the latest challenge to the rule, which President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump campaign buys full page ads in Miami newspapers ahead of Dem debates Trump administration's 'forced diplomacy' with Iran isn't working Roy Moore trails Republican field in Alabama MORE personally announced last month during the National Day of Prayer.

A coalition led by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) filed a similar lawsuit last month, as did California Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraHillicon Valley: House panel advances election security bill | GOP senator targets YouTube with bill on child exploitation | Hicks told Congress Trump camp felt 'relief' after release of Clinton docs | Commerce blacklists five Chinese tech groups Four more states join attorneys general lawsuit to block T-Mobile-Sprint merger Overnight Health Care: Court allows Trump abortion referral ban to take effect | GOP group launches M blitz against 'Medicare for All' | Star GOP lawyer raises constitutional concerns with surprise billing legislation MORE (D). Additional challenges have come from Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the National Women’s Law Center, and Democracy Forward.  

The rule is part of a recent string of policies from the Trump administration that favor religious conservatives. In the past month, the administration also proposed a policy that would roll back anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ patients.

In addition, the administration is attempting to stop providers receiving federal family planning grants from referring women for abortions. That proposal was recently blocked in federal court.