In a 147 page opinion today, Judge Engelmayer vacated the so-called “conscience rule” that would have allowed health care providers who receive federal funds to decline to provide services to patients based on religious or moral grounds.  The plaintiffs, a group of state and local governments, challenged the regulation based on improper rulemaking, violations of the Establishment Clause, and because the threat of denying federal funds to health care providers who did not allow employees to decline care based on religious grounds was unconstitutionally coercive.

While Judge Engelmayer declined to invalidate the rule on Establishment Clause grounds, the opinion cited several fatal flaws with how the rule was enacted, including that the alleged reason the rule was drafted in the first place (a spike in health care workers raising “conscience” complaints) was factually untrue.  Given the pervasive nature of the issues, Judge Engelmayer concluded that the rule was so “shot through with glaring legal defects” that it had to be invalidated entirely:
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