The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will hold off on enforcing a "conscience" rule that would allow health care professionals to deny treatment to individuals that they felt violated their moral or religious beliefs, giving the Trump administration more time to deal with pending lawsuits against the policy.
The policy was set to take effect on July 22 but HHS announced Saturday that it would day it for the next four months as a court in California reaches a decision in a lawsuit filed by Democratic Attorney General of California Xavier Becerra and the city of San Francisco.
Proponents of the "conscience" rule, which is already protected by about 25 existing federal laws but is not enforced across the country, say that physicians, pharmacists, nurses, teachers, students and faith-based charities should not be mandated to perform abortions, sterilizations and other medical procedures that they feel violate their religion.
Democratic lawmakers, as well as a coalition of civil rights groups, have filed separate lawsuits against the administration fighting against the rule that they feel will strip women and homosexuals access to health care procedures.
“The federal government is giving health care providers free license to openly discriminate and refuse care to patients – a gross misinterpretation of religious freedom that will have devastating consequences on communities throughout the country,” New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) said in a statement supporting one lawsuit.