A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proposed rule that would more vigorously protect health care providers’ ability to deny coverage in certain circumstances because of moral or religious beliefs should be withdrawn, according to a coalition of state attorneys general.
The proposed rule would strengthen the enforcement of existing regulations that allow providers to invoke conscientious objections as a basis for refusing to provide care that involves certain medical issues, including abortion, sterilization, assisted suicide and others. It also would allow individual providers to object to informing patients about their medical options or referring them to providers of those options. . . [Full Text]
American Center for Law and Justice
The American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) recently represented a pharmacist in Virginia who was the subject of a formal complaint and investigation owing to her refusal to fill prescriptions for oral contraceptives due to their abortifacient properties. We are glad to report that the investigation has been resolved in her favor.
While oral contraceptives are intended to prevent ovulation, they also have a secondary mechanism of action that attempts to end pregnancy after fertilization occurs. Many individuals, including many pharmacists, believe that this post-fertilization action is immoral because it intentionally ends a human life, and also believe that its morally impermissible to personally facilitate such activity.
Earlier this year, an individual contacted our client to request a refill for oral contraceptives. The pharmacist said that the individual could have the prescription filled two days later by someone else, but she was not comfortable dispensing it herself due to the drug’s abortifacient properties (acting post-fertilization). The pharmacist felt that it was her professional obligation to make sure that the individual was aware of how the prescribed drug works in light of the fact that many women object on religious or moral grounds to taking it once they understand how it works.
Shortly thereafter on the same day, the individual’s father called our client and angrily questioned her about her refusal to fill the prescription. He also claimed that oral contraceptives never act post-fertilization and warned her that he was going to make her life “a living hell.” . . . [Full Text]
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) has filed a lawsuit against the regulation on behalf of two Ohio companies [Lifenews]. A U.S. District Judge has dismissed suits filed by the Archdiocese of Washington and four other Catholic nonprofit groups on the grounds that the suits are premature [Bloomberg] Lawsuits filed by Colorado Christian University and Notre Dame University in Indiana have also been dismissed [The Coloradoan; First Things]. The Catholic diocese of Nashville, Tennessee and seven other groups in the state are appealing a lower court ruling against them[The Tennessean]. In Illinois, a temporary injunction has been granted against state legislation that is similar to the HHS regulation because the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act and Health Care Right of Conscience Act [Georgia Bulletin]. However, the U.S. federal government is appealing a decision to grant a temporary injunction against the HHS regulation to Tyndale House Publishers Inc. of Illinois [Bloomberg].A temporary injunction against the HHS regulation has been granted to a Missouri company, Sharpe Holdings Inc., the third such injunction granted in the state [St. Louis Beacon]. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli attracted criticism because of his remarks to the effect that the nature of the HHS regulation will only become apparent if people go to jail for refusing to obey it [Reason.com]
For a map and up-to-date overview of lawsuits filed against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, see the Becket Fund’s HHS Information Central.