New York Attorney General Letitia James is leading a coalition of 23 states, cities, and municipalities in a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to block a new Final Rule that would enable businesses and individuals to cite “religious beliefs and moral conviction” in the refusal to provide health care services.The Final Rule, formally titled “Protecting Statutory Conscience Rights in Health Care; Delegations of Authority,” is scheduled to go into effect in July and cites examples including abortion procedures, assisted suicide, involuntary sterilization and “conscience protections applicable to the ACA’s individual mandate.”
“Once again, the Trump administration is putting politics over the health and safety of Americans,” said James in announcing the lawsuit, which was filed in the Southern District of New York. “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. When the health of our residents is at stake, and the safety of vulnerable populations hang in the balance, we cannot rest until this ‘health care refusal’ rule is stopped.”
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong echoed James’ sentiment. “This rule is yet another politically motivated attack on the health of the American people – particularly women and LGBTQ individuals who already face needless hurdles accessing health care,” he said. “While the Trump administration panders to an anti-choice and homophobic fringe, patients’ lives are at risk. This rule is dangerous, wrong and unlawful.”
In addition to New York and Connecticut, the coalition behind the lawsuit includes Chicago, Colorado, Cook County in Illinois, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York City, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.