Magazine article Church & State

'Flatly Untrue': Court Exposes the Big Lie Behind Trump's Denial of Care Rule

Magazine article Church & State

'Flatly Untrue': Court Exposes the Big Lie Behind Trump's Denial of Care Rule

Article excerpt

Three federal courts last month invalidated the Trump administration's appalling Denial of Care Rule that would have allowed anyone who works in the health care field to refuse to provide services solely on the basis of personal religious beliefs.

A rule like this could put the lives of millions of people in jeopardy. It's short-sighted and reckless. And, as we now know, there's no need for it. The Trump administration's entire justification for the rule was built on a tissue of lies.

Officials at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asserted that the number of people who said they had been pressured to act against their faith had jumped dramatically over 12 months. They claimed an average of only one complaint per year for some time until last year, when the number of complaints suddenly skyrocketed to 343.

The clear implication here was that, for whatever reason, religious people working in health care fields were suddenly being pressured to act in ways that violated their deeply held beliefs. In light of these numbers, officials at HHS argued they were compelled to act.

But there's one major problem: The number is a lie. U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer called the figure "flatly untrue" in his Nov. 6 ruling, and The Washington Post noted that officials at HHS apparently arrived at this figure by including complaints about vaccinations, which would not have even been affected by the Denial of Care Rule. In fact, 80 percent of the complaints HHS collected were about vaccinations. …

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