Federal Judge Says ‘The Whole Rule Must Go’

Donald Trump (image via Flickr/White House – public domain)

A third federal judge has ruled against the Trump administration’s proposed change in regulations which would allow health care providers to deny care that offends ‘deeply held religious beliefs. 

Read that as legalizing discrimination against LGBTQ people.


U.S. District Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California ruled on Tuesday that the new Denial of Care rule is “not in accordance with law” by reason of conflict with underlying statutes.

“When a rule is so saturated with error, as here, there is no point in trying to sever the problematic provisions,” wrote Alsup in his decision. “The whole rule must go.”

Previously, Judge Paul Engelmayer of New York, and Judge Stanley Bastian of Spokane, Washington, also found the religious exemption rule announced by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would violate several federal laws.

Alsup wrote in his ruling, “Under the new rule, to preview just one example, an ambulance driver would be free, on religious or moral grounds, to eject a patient en route to a hospital upon learning the patient needed an emergency abortion. Such harsh treatment would be blessed by the new rule.”


The so-called ‘conscience protection’ rule would also expand the categories of workers who could choose to refuse to serve the public to include receptionists, accounting staff and emergency responders.

Plus, the federal government would be allowed to cut funding to states and/or employers who might not respect the religious exemption to the degree sought by the Trump administration.

Judge Alsup made note that there are already federal laws in place to provide for accommodating a health care provider’s religious or conscientious objections to some procedures like abortion.

HHS announced the proposed rule change in May and was set to take effect this Friday. But Judge Engelmayer’s ruling in New York two weeks ago blocked the regulation.


Jamie Gliksberg of Lambda Legal, which was one of the legal teams representing the plaintiffs, celebrated in a statement regarding the ruling: “That is now three judges in two weeks who have recognized the Denial of Care Rule for what it is, an egregious and unconstitutional attack on women, LGBT people and other vulnerable populations.”

This doesn’t end the assault on LGBTQ people’s rights by the Trump administration, though.

Earlier in November, HHS shared plans to allow faith-based adoption or foster care organizations who receive federal funds to decline to place children with LGBTQ families.

Plus, the Trump administration is still working to remove parts of the Affordable Care Act that prohibits discrimination against transgender people.


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