Christian doctors continue the fight for conscience protections

Christian Medical & Dental Associations will appeal decision blocking Trump admin Conscience Rule

News Release

Becket

WASHINGTON – Religious medical professionals in New York have announced that they appealed a district court’s decision to block vital conscience protections for doctors and nurses. In New York v. HHS, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is defending Dr. Regina Frost and the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA) from attempts by Planned Parenthood and New York officials to force religious doctors to perform life-ending procedures that violate their consciences. The Trump administration has until Jan. 6 to join the appeal from the district court’s decision, which struck down one of the administration’s signature regulations.

In May 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a Conscience Rule to better enforce longstanding, bipartisan laws that, for decades, have promised to allow religious doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals to serve patients without being required to violate their consciences. Medical professionals of all faith backgrounds and with moral objections rely on these well established protections. The Rule holds HHS funding recipients to agreements that they made under existing federal statutes to accommodate religious health professionals. But several states and abortion provider and advocacy organizations—including the State of New York and Planned Parenthood, which have long accepted HHS funds—immediately sued to avoid enforcement of their existing agreements under the Rule and to push religious healthcare professionals like Dr. Frost out of the medical profession.

“My faith is at the heart of who I am. It is what drives me to put the needs of women and their children first every day, and to serve everyone in my care with dignity and respect,” said Dr. Regina Frost. “If the government forces me to violate my faith and my medical judgment to perform abortions, I’ll have no choice but to leave the profession.”

Dr. Frost is an OB-GYN and one of nearly 19,000 medical professionals in CMDA serving vulnerable populations in the United States and abroad. Across the country, CMDA members serve the homeless, prisoners living with HIV, and victims of opioid addiction, sex trafficking, and gang violence. Overseas, CMDA members serve in war zones, refugee clinics, and remote areas without quality healthcare. The lawsuit by Planned Parenthood and New York needlessly threatens the health and well-being of at-risk, underserved populations across the globe. New polling shows that healthcare professionals are committed to serving all patients but are facing increasing pressures to perform in certain procedures, which they believe end life and violate their faith—and these pressures could force 91 percent of religious doctors out of the medical field.

In Nov. 2019, a New York district court ruled against the Conscience Rule. Yesterday, Dr. Frost and CMDA appealed this ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The deadline for the Trump administration to appeal the district court’s decision is Jan. 6, 2020.

“Like an ideological Grinch stealing conscience rights, Planned Parenthood is robbing not only religious doctors and nurses but also the patients that they serve,” said Daniel Blomberg, senior counsel at Becket. “To hear Planned Parenthood tell it, one pro-life OB-GYN is one too many. That’s wrong and it’s bad for healthcare. In a big, diverse country like ours, we can ensure that everyone will receive the care they need while still respecting the consciences of religious doctors and nurses.”

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, contact Ryan Colby at media@becketlaw.org or 202-349-7219. Interviews can be arranged in English, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, or Spanish.

Beware the “Fake News” on Conscience Rights

Cutting Through the Abortion Distortion on Protections for Pro-Life Medical Professionals

American Center for Law and Justice

Francis J. Manion

You may have seen this past week headlines from a variety of news outlets loudly proclaiming the death of conscience rights: “Trump’s ‘conscience rule’ for health providers blocked by federal judge.” “Second federal judge strikes down Trump’s ‘conscience protection’ rule for health care providers.” Both the headlines and, for the most part, the stories themselves give the impression that, as usual, the independent federal judiciary has had to come to the rescue of all that is good and true by thwarting the latest attempt by “Trump” and his “religious right” henchpeople to impose their troglodyte, Taliban-esque views on Americans who just want to be treated in hospitals and doctors’ offices without interference from small-minded religious fanatics.

But it’s fake news. The decisions of the U.S. District Courts in New York and Washington addressed a set of administrative regulations – housekeeping stuff – adopted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services earlier this year for how HHS wants to go about interpreting and enforcing pre-existing conscience protection laws. The laws themselves remain untouched and, as the New York court made clear, its decision leaves HHS at liberty to enforce existing conscience laws and to adopt rules governing how they go about doing that. . . [Full text]

Anti-abortion law firm says Reproductive Health Act violates federal law

State’s abortion law discriminates against employers with religious objections, complaint claims

mySuburbanLife.com

Rebecca Anzel

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois’ new reproductive health care law is a “blatant violation” of residents’ religious and conscience rights, pro-life law firm official Peter Breen said.

The Thomas More Society, based in Chicago, filed a complaint Oct. 21 with the U.S. Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights alleging an element of the Reproductive Health Act breaches federal law.

Breen, the organization’s vice president and senior counsel, said on June 12, when Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker signed the statute, that his firm would mount a legal challenge. It is now asking the federal government to “prevent or halt” that law from being enforced. . . [Full text]

‘It should be treated just like every other civil right’: Top Trump health official looks to enshrine religious liberty

Washington Examiner

Kimberly Leonard

The Trump administration official who enforces civil rights protections in healthcare sees his work on religious liberty as his biggest legacy for the Department of Health and Human Services.

“There is a real problem out there of lack of respect for conscience and religious freedom that needs to be addressed and we are taking the concrete steps to finally address it,” said Roger Severino, 44, director of the Office for Civil Rights at HHS. “And I think this is an awakening of sorts that has opened up people’s eyes, both in the healthcare industry and beyond, that this is a right that had been under-enforced, that people were being discriminated against and felt they had nowhere to turn, and now they have somewhere to turn. And it would be a shame if that door ever closed on them again.” . . . [Full text]

Medical conscience for me, but not for thee

Promoting a one-way conscience right favouring the medical intelligentsia

National Review

Wesley J. Smith*

Medical conscience for me, but not for theeThe New York Times has published an opinion column by cardiologist Sandeep Jauhar that decries the Trump administration’s increased enforcement of medical conscience. But he actually promotes a one-way conscience right that favors protecting the predominate ideological views of the medical intelligentsia, while forcing dissenters to sacrifice their own religious and moral beliefs. . . [Full text]