While the rule sought to “recognize and protect undeniably important rights,” the judge found the rulemaking process was “shot through with glaring legal defects.”
Officials from the Health and Human Services Department released a statement saying they were reviewing the decision and would not comment on pending litigation. The Justice Department declined to comment.
“Health care is a basic right that should never be subject to political games,” James said in a statement Wednesday. “… The refusal of care rule was an unlawful attempt to allow health care providers to openly discriminate and refuse to provide necessary health care to patients based on providers’ ‘religious beliefs or moral objections.’”
Proposed by HHS’ Office of Civil Rights more than a year ago, the rule was designed to protect “conscience rights” of health care providers by boosting enforcement of at least two dozen laws already on the books that allow doctors, nurses, technicians and other providers to opt out of procedures such as abortions or gender-change procedures to which they object.
But many physician and health advocacy groups contended the rule would have disproportionately harmed certain groups of patients, including LGBTQ patients.
“We are heartened by today’s ruling, and we will not stop fighting to prioritize patients’ need for standard medical care over health-care personnels’ personal religious or moral beliefs,” the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association said in a statement.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the city of San Francisco also brought lawsuits against the rule.