Victory: Court Strikes Down Trump Administration’s Discriminatory Refusal of Care Rule

WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York struck down a Trump administration rule that would have allowed health care workers’ personal beliefs to dictate patient care. The rule was finalized in May and set to take effect on November 22. The administration’s “refusal of care” rule would have endangered patients by granting health care workers — from physicians and nurses to receptionists, EMTs, and call center staff — the right to put their personal beliefs ahead of people’s health, even in emergencies. Patients could have been denied access to information and health care for any reason — simply because a health care worker disagrees with a particular service. This rule would have impacted more than  600,000 health centers, including Planned Parenthood, and created barriers to providers who want to provide the full range of reproductive health services.

Statement from Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO, National Women’s Law Center:

“We are thrilled that the court saw the Trump-Pence refusal of care rule for what it is – an unlawful, discriminatory, and unconscionable attack on our health care. We took the Trump administration to court because personal beliefs should never dictate the care a patient receives. The National Women’s Law Center will never stop fighting efforts to entrench hate into the law and will continue to defend patients across the country.”

Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, Acting President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

“Today, the Trump administration has been blocked from providing legal cover for discrimination. As the federal district court made clear, the administration acted outside its authority and made false claims to try to justify this rule. This rule put patients’ needs last and threatened their ability to access potentially lifesaving health care. Everyone deserves to access the health care they need.

“No one should be concerned about being denied the medical care they need simply because of their health care provider’s religious, moral, or personal beliefs. At Planned Parenthood, we will always fight for your access to the health care you need, including safe, legal abortion — no matter what you look like, where you are from, or who you love.”

Statement from Anne Harkavy, Executive Director, Democracy Forward:

“This is a major legal victory and we are proud to have worked with our partners in stopping the Trump-Pence administration’s dangerous and unlawful effort to privilege certain personal beliefs over patient care.”

Planned Parenthood Federation of America, on behalf of its member-affiliates, and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, sued the Trump administration in June to block the rule. Planned Parenthood was represented by attorneys from Planned Parenthood Federation of America, National Women’s Law Center, Democracy Forward, and Covington & Burling.

This “refusal of care” rule is part of the Trump administration’s broader agenda to impose its ideology on all people and block patients from accessing sexual and reproductive health services at Planned Parenthood. Repeated attempts by extreme politicians would compound the obstacles that can stand in the way of access to essential and lifesaving health care for women, LGBTQ people, and people of color.

The administration has also:

  • tried to block patients from Planned Parenthood health centers;
  • proposed rule that would encourage discrimination in federally funded programs, such as HIV prevention and treatment programs, foster care placement programs, and other critical health programs;
  • proposed a rule to remove protections for transgender people and people who have had an abortion;
  • introduced a rule that would allow bosses to decide whether insurance covers birth control;
  • stacked the federal courts with anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ and anti-birth control judges;
  • tried to eliminate the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program;
  • proposed a rule to eliminate protections for survivors of sexual assault.


For Immediate Release: November 6, 2019
Contact: Olympia Feil ([email protected])