The American Civil Liberties Union and several other groups filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging a new regulation that is aimed at protecting health care workers who cite moral or religious reasons to not provide certain medical procedures, such as abortion.
Last month, President Donald Trump announced the finalization of the rule, which was first unveiled in 2018. The rule protects individuals and health care entities from unwanted involvement with services such as abortion, sterilization or assisted suicide, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, which said last month that the rule re-establishes existing protections created by Congress.
The rule also notes that complaints submitted to the office about gender dysphoria-related surgeries will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
In a statement, the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, which filed the lawsuit with the ACLU, Public Health Solutions and the New York Civil Liberties Union, said the rule “forces health centers that receive federal funds to employ individuals who refuse to perform essential job functions, without any regard for the well being of their patients or public safety.”
The association said in the statement that the rule is “likely to embolden refusals to provide a range of other health services” and that under the policy, “a hospital receptionist could refuse to schedule an appointment for a transgender patient seeking gender-affirming care and an orderly could refuse to transfer a patient to the operating room for an emergency abortion.”
“The rule could eviscerate the delivery of high-quality family planning services in this country,” Clare Coleman, the association’s president and CEO, said in the statement.
“Health care providers’ beliefs should never determine whether patients can access essential care they need to stay healthy,” Coleman said, adding that the lawsuit is seeking “to make sure that patients get the critical information and care that they need, and to ensure that the patient’s well-being is paramount.”
The Justice Department declined to comment on the lawsuit Wednesday.
The new lawsuit is the latest challenge to the recent move by the Trump administration. In May, New York’s attorney general, joined by a coalition of 23 states, cities and municipalities, filed a lawsuit against the administration, similarly arguing that the new regulation would let health care providers discriminate and refuse care to patients based on religious or moral beliefs.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that the lawsuit was filed in regard to a regulation aimed at protecting health care workers who cite moral or religious reasons not to provide certain medical procedures.
CNN’s Veronica Stracqualursi, Tami Luhby and Kate Sullivan contributed to this report.