Cases & Advocacy

New York v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Other Lawsuits Challenging the “Denial of Care” Rule Amicus

In 2019 and 2020, NCLR led a coalition of national, state, and local LGBTQ groups in filing amicus briefs in federal lawsuits challenging a regulation from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services called “Protecting Statutory Conscience Rights in Health Care.” The Trump Administration’s regulation, more aptly referred to as the “denial of care” rule, would allow health care professionals to deny certain medical treatments or services to patients based on the provider’s own religious or moral beliefs – regardless of whether the patient could obtain the care from another provider. In 2018, NCLR submitted extensive comments on the proposed rule, which became final in May 2019.

The plaintiffs in the eight lawsuits challenging the rule include state and local governments, Planned Parenthood and other reproductive rights groups, and LGBTQ health organizations, among others. In the fall of 2019, NCLR filed amicus briefs in support of the plaintiffs in the district courts. In November 2019, shortly before the rule was set to take effect, three federal district judges in New York, California, and Washington vacated the rule in its entirety. The Trump Administration appealed.

In August and October 2020, NCLR, joined by 27 nonprofit organizations, filed amicus briefs in the Second Circuit and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals. The amicus briefs discuss how the challenged rule would be particularly harmful to LGBTQ patients, who already face pervasive and harmful discrimination in health care settings.

Susan Baker Manning and Susan Feigen Harris of Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP served as co-counsel for the briefs in the Second and Ninth Circuits. Raegen Rasnick of Skellenger Bender PLLC served as local counsel for the brief filed in district court in Washington. Jessie Weber of Brown Goldstein Levy served as local counsel for the brief filed in district court in Maryland.