Reprinted from Baptist Press (www.baptistpress.com), news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.
A federal judge overturned a Trump administration regulation that allowed doctors to object to performing abortions on religious or moral grounds.
According to The New York Times news paper, District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer, who was nominated by President Obama, ruled on Tuesday that United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) exceeded its authority and that the rule was not needed.
The new rules also violate federal laws that protect employee rights and require treatment of medical emergencies, and infringe on Congress's power to decide how federal money is spent, Englemayer wrote in his decision.
The rule is created to protect the freedom of individuals and institutions in health care with objections to participating in procedures that violate their consciences or religious beliefs, such as abortion, assisted suicide, sterilization and gender-transition procedures.
The judge, who was appointed by former President Obama, also stated that the rule was "arbitrary and capricious".
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., called the ruling "absurd mush". "Health care is a basic right that should never be subject to political games", she said.
The Christian Medical and Dental Associations (CMDA) pledged to continue fighting for the conscience rights of medical professionals. "The Trump Administration's HHS protections would ensure that healthcare professionals are free to work consistent with their religious beliefs while providing the best care to their patients".
Lambda is one of several groups that filed a legal challenge against the so-called "Denial of Care Rule" struck down by the November 6 decision.
"The Trump-Pence administration's latest attack threatens LGBTQ people by permitting medical providers to deny critical care based on personal beliefs", HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy said in a statement.
In May, HHS said the new rule would protect health care workers "from having to provide, participate in, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for, services such as abortion, sterilization, or assisted suicide".
The government's rationale behind the rule was that there was a void in enforcement options for health care providers.
DEADLINE UPDATE: Just minutes after this story was published, a federal judge in the Seattle case, Washington v. HHS, issued an opinion striking down the HHS Denial of Care Rule. The Court's finding that the agency acted contrary to two major existing laws (Title VII and EMTALA) vitiates substantive definitions in the Rule affecting the health care employment and emergency contexts.
The violations of conscience in recent years included reports by nurses in at least Illinois, New Jersey and NY that they were threatened with the loss of their jobs if they refused to participate in abortions.
Thus, the judge warned, a hospital or clinic receptionist who schedules appointments, an elevator operator or an ambulance driver could refuse on moral or religious grounds to do their jobs.