A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked the state of New York from forcing doctors to be so vaccinated after a group of health professionals sued, saying their constitutional rights were violated because the state mandate did not allow for religious exceptions.
Judge David Hurd in Utica issued the order after 17 health professionals, including doctors and nurses, in a lawsuit on Monday claimed their rights were violated with a vaccination mandate allowing the exceptions.
In their lawsuit, health professionals disguised their identities with pseudonyms such as “Dr. A.”, “Nurse A.” and “Doctor Liaison X.” They insist that they are not so-called anti-waxers. Instead, they say the mandate violates their constitutional rights, especially on the issue of religious exemption.
“It reaffirms that if you have a sincere religious belief, you can have a home in the workplace,” hiring lawyer Andrew Lieb told FOX 5 NY. (He is not involved in the case.)
The lawsuit claims that all available vaccines use aborted fetal cell lines in their testing, development or production. But religious leaders have disagreed on the issue, and the Vatican last year issued a statement saying the vaccinations were “morally acceptable”.
“Their religious beliefs are about being anti-abortion. And they say that certain embryo and fetal tissues were used for the development or research of the various vaccines we use,” Lieb said. “And they say, ‘We have a faith that says we should not be involved in this.'”
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The plaintiffs, all Christians, included GPs, nurses, a nuclear medicine technologist, a cognitive rehabilitation therapist and a doctor’s associate, all of whom are against any religious belief in abortion, according to the case.
The judge gave the state of New York until September 22 to respond to the trial in the federal court in Utica. If the State opposes the applicants’ request for a preliminary ruling blocking the vaccine mandate, an oral hearing will take place on 28 September.
The state issued the order on Aug. 28, requiring at least a first shot for health care workers in hospitals and nursing homes by Sept. 27.
Gov. Kathy Hochul’s press secretary issued a statement on the ruling.
“Governor Hochul is doing everything in her power to protect New Yorkers and fight the Delta variant by increasing the vaccine count across the state. Demanding vaccination by health care workers is crucial to this fight,” Hazel Crampton-Hays said. “This ordinance does not suspend the vaccine mandate, but it temporarily prevents the Ministry of Health from enforcing the mandate where individuals are entitled to religious exemption. We are considering all our legal options to protect our community.”
Lieb told FOX 5 NY that the mandate, as written, is flawed.
“It should always have had a sincere religious exemption,” he said.
With the Associated Press.