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District Court Blocks ‘Conscience Rule,’ Deeming it Unconstitutional

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A U.S. District Court judge has voided the Trump administration’s controversial “conscience rule” regulation, which would have protected health care workers who refused to take part in certain health care services — such as abortion, sterilization, and assisted suicide — on religious or moral grounds.

The rule, which was proposed in 2018, was scheduled to take effect Nov. 22. A U.S. District Court judge for the Southern District of New York ruled it unconstitutional because the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) lacks the authority to impose portions of the rule. Officials from HHS said in a statement that they were reviewing the decision and would not comment on whether the agency would appeal.

Another lawsuit challenging the rule has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. It is not clear what this week’s ruling means for the California case.