Court Strikes Down Trump Administration Refusal of Care Rule

This week, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York struck down a Trump administration rule that would have allowed health care workers- ranging from physicians and nurses to receptionists and EMTs-  to deny patient care if it conflicted with their  personal religious or moral beliefs and would have allowed them to withhold referral to another provider with no such objections.

This rule would have required health centers to retain staff workers, or volunteers, who do not want to provide care and information. Entities found in violation of the rule would face the loss of all federal funding.

Twenty-three states and municipalities sued to block the rule, which was finalized in May and set to take effect November 22. 

ASRM participated in an amicus brief filed by 11 medical professional groups arguing that the rule was contrary to medical ethics and professionals’ commitment to promote patients’ wellbeing, endangered patients in emergency situations, undermined patient autonomy, and would allow non-medical staff to interfere in patient care.

Judge Paul Engelmayer ruled that the agency’s rationale for the rule was “factually untrue.” The administration claimed that the rule was necessary based on increasing numbers of complaints by healthcare workers forced to participate in providing medical procedures, such as abortion, against their religious or moral objections. Analysis of the evidence of the complaints relevant to the claimed need for the rule brought the real number of complaints down to seven from HHS’ claimed 343 in fiscal 2018.

ASRM opposes the nomination of Sarah Pitlyk to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri

ASRM submitted a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee urging them oppose judicial nominee Sarah Pitlyk. Ms. Pitlyk has devoted her career to fighting against good reproductive medicine and poses a dangerous threat to families that have been created using ART.

In 2015, ASRM encountered Ms. Pitlyk when filing an amicus brief in a case involving embryo custody. In this divorce proceeding, Ms. Pitlyk tried to secure legal rights to frozen fertilized eggs. If such extreme efforts were successful, many of the state of the art practices involved in treating infertility would become illegal.

In our efforts to defeat Ms. Pitlyk’s nomination, ASRM participated in a briefing for Senate staffers to provide expertise and communicate the harm that would be done if she were to be confirmed. In her work and other writings, Ms Pitlyk has shown herself to be extremely anti-reproductive medicine and anti-reproductive health. For these reasons, we view her as unqualified for a lifetime seat on the court.

ASRM applauds Senator Tammy Duckworth who penned a powerful Dear Colleague letter expressing her own opposition to Ms. Pitlyk’s nomination. She writes:

“As a mother who struggled with infertility for years and required IVF to start my family, I would be one of the many Americans who could never enter Ms. Pitlyk’s courtroom with any reasonable expectation that my case would be adjudicated in a fair and impartial manner. I could not trust that Ms. Pitlyk’s opinions were based on facts and circumstances, rather than reflecting her personal beliefs. Not after Ms. Pitlyk cruelly implied in an amicus brief she proudly submitted to the Supreme Court that children conceived with the help of ART are inferior. Not after Ms. Pitlyk accused families who opt for surrogacy of contributing to “grave effects on society,” including disrespecting motherhood.

A lifetime appointment to the Federal Bench is a privilege, not a right. Ms. Pitlyk’s own words should disqualify her from securing such an honor.”

The ASRM Bulletin is published by ASRM's Office of Public Affairs to inform Society members of important recent developments. Republication or any other use of the contents of the Bulletin without permission is prohibited. To request permission to quote or excerpt material from the Bulletin, contact Sean Tipton at   


Sean Tipton
Ph: 202-863-2494 or 202-421-5112 (mobile)

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