Health Care Refusals Cases

Happening Now

  • On November 6, 2019, the US District Court for the Southern District of New York struck down the Trump administration’s health care refusal rule. This ruling vacates (sets aside) the health care refusal rule in its entirety.
  • Oral arguments were held on October 18, 2019 for NFPRHA’s health care refusals case and two other cases with which it is coordinated: one brought by the New York Attorney General (on behalf of 20 states, two cities, and one county) and one by Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Background

On May 21, 2019, the Trump administration published a final version of its health care refusal rule that threatens health care access for millions. A proposed version of the same rule was published on February 22, 2019. The rule seeks to significantly expand the ability of health care providers to withhold treatment, counseling, or medical information based on their religious or moral beliefs – without any regard for the needs of patients. This would reinstate and broaden a regulation promulgated in 2008 under then-President George W. Bush.

Information on NFPRHA’s Case and Related Cases

On June 11, 2019, NFPRHA, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), filed a lawsuit with Public Health Solutions, a NFPRHA member in New York City, to challenge the Trump administration’s final health care refusal rule. NFPRHA’s lawsuit, National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association v. Azar, was filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

If not blocked by the courts, the health care refusal rule would undermine the integrity of publicly funded family planning programs, including Title X, and damage the trust patients have in clinicians and the network of providers.

NFPRHA’s case is coordinated with two other cases in the Southern District of New York. The first was filed on May 21, 2019, by the New York Attorney General on behalf of 20 states, two cities, and one county. The second, by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, was filed on June 11, 2019.

Five other lawsuits have also been filed: three in the Northern District of California, one in the Eastern District of Washington, and one in the District of Maryland.

Thanks in part to litigation filed by NFPRHA and others, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has postponed the effective date of the health care refusal rule, which had been slated to go into effect on July 22, 2019. The new effective date, as approved by a federal district court in the Southern District of New York on July 1, 2019, is November 22, 2019.

Oral arguments will be held on October 18, 2019, for the three cases being considered in the Southern District of New York (including NFPRHA’s case).

In the Northern District of California, oral arguments will be held on October 30, 2019. For the case in the Eastern District of Washington, oral augments will be held on November 7, 2019. Oral arguments for the District of Maryland case have not been scheduled at this time.

This case is still developing, and this page will be updated as events warrant.

Last updated: October 8, 2019

Key Resources:

Press statements:
Key court filings:

National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association

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Phone: 202-293-3114  |  info@nfprha.org

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