Judge scraps rule that let medical staff opt out of abortions for religious reasons

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Roger Severino, director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, was a major driver of the rule struck down Wednesday. A federal judge found the rule issued earlier this year — making it easier for health care workers to refuse care for religious reasons — to be an overreach by the department. Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

A federal judge has overturned President Donald Trump’s “conscience rule” that allowed medical providers to opt out of procedures that violate their personal religious or moral beliefs.

Many media outlets have portrayed the rule as a concocted reason to refuse to provide care to certain individuals, namely homosexual and transgender people, or to perform certain procedures, namely abortions.

The judge’s ruling now essentially forces health care providers to perform actions they regard as immoral, repugnant and damaging to human life.

Abortion, contraception, and care of LGBT, especially transgender individuals are among the practices that, under the Trump regulation, providers could refuse to participate in.

“U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer in Manhattan declared the rule unconstitutional in a decision stemming from a lawsuit by New York and 22 other mostly Democratic states and municipalities,” The Washington Post reported.

The rule came from the Dept. of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights, headed by Roger Severino. Referred to by many in the media as a right-wing religious activist who uses his power at HHS to hurt women and LGBT people, Mr. Severino holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School, received a master’s degree in public policy with highest distinction from Carnegie Mellon University, and has a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Southern California.

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