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Federal judge strikes down rule allowing health care professionals to refuse to perform abortions for moral or religious reasons

A federal judge struck down a Trump administration rule Wednesday that would allow health care clinicians to refuse to participate in abortions for moral or religious reasons, claiming the provision violated federal rules regarding coercion.

Judge Paul A. Engelmayer made the ruling on three consolidated lawsuits, part of a wave of litigation related to the rule that would have allowed religious physicians to refrain from aborting unborn babies.

Engelmayer, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, said that the rule crossed the line regarding federal coercion, stating that it would have permitted the central government to withhold billions of dollars in federal funding if health care providers did not accede to it.

The rule actually covered more procedures than just abortion. Plaintiffs argued that health care providers might have used the religious exemption to discriminate against LGBT patients, as well.