Biden Administration Revokes Trump-Era Refusal of Care Rule

(Washington, D.C.) — Today, the Biden administration repealed the most harmful aspects of the Trump administration’s “Refusal of Care” rule. The Trump Refusal of Care Rule would have granted individuals and institutions the ability to deny patients’ care based on personal and religious beliefs and threatened to limit access to critical health care services, including abortion care.

The Trump Refusal of Care Rule also would have restricted prospective health care employers from inquiring about the services job applicants want to refuse to provide. This could have resulted in institutions being forced to hire and retain staff who are unwilling to perform essential duties.

In 2019, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), Democracy Forward Foundation, and Covington & Burling filed a lawsuit on behalf of PPFA and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, successfully challenging the Trump Refusal of Care Rule in federal court in New York. The court found the rule unlawful, determining that the agency lacked authority to issue the rule and citing misleading justifications provided by the Trump administration.

Although the court invalidated Trump’s rule, the Biden administration’s action to rescind these harmful parts of the rule are necessary to ensure that there is no confusion about patients’ rights under the law. The new rule corrects the Trump-era policy by addressing legal shortcomings and prioritizing patients’ access to care.

The following is a statement by Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of NWLC: 

“This rule reaffirms that patient health comes first. Following the Supreme Court’s erroneous decision to take away our constitutional right to abortion, we are witnessing the devastating consequences for patients’ health and lives when they are denied the care they need. Refusals of care based on personal beliefs – which happen even in states where abortion is legal – harm patients. The care a patient receives should never be dictated by the personal or religious beliefs of health care providers or politicians. We commend the Biden administration for taking action to protect and advance patient access to health care.”