Law Suits Filed To Block Provider Conscience Rule

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Seven states filed a lawsuit Thursday, January 15, 2009, to block the impending "Provider Conscience Rule". Critics of the rule are concerned that it will allow health care providers to deny care such as emergency contraception to rape victims leaving the patient no recourse for treatment.

The seven states are California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, and Rhode Island.

The Provider Conscience Rule is scheduled to take effect on Tuesday, January 20, 2009. It reinforces protections for health care workers that refuse to provide services they "morally" object to.

In filing the lawsuit, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is seeking an injunction to stop the Provider Conscience Rule from taking effect and asks the court to invalidate the regulation.

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Blumenthal said the rule would allow health care providers or pharmacists to deny a patient medical care without explanation or offering the patient a referral or information on alternatives. This in effect upsets the balance between health providers' religious freedom and patients' rights.

Connecticut has a law enacted in 2007 that guarantees that all hospitals in the state provide emergency contraception, commonly known as Plan B, to rape victims. That law has been endorsed by Catholic leaders, who initially opposed it, and has not produced complaints. The federal Provider Conscience Rule would override the Connecticut law.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association and the American Civil Liberties Union filed parallel lawsuits.

For more information on the Provider Conscience Rule see

Right-to-Refuse Rule for Healthcare Industry

Conscience Rule to Take Effect January 18

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