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Federal judge allows health care workers in New York to apply for religious exemptions to Covid-19 vaccine mandate

<i>Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images</i><br/>A federal judge has temporarily allowed health care workers in New York to apply for religious exemptions to the state's Covid-19 vaccine mandate
AFP via Getty Images
Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images
A federal judge has temporarily allowed health care workers in New York to apply for religious exemptions to the state's Covid-19 vaccine mandate

By Sonia Moghe, CNN

A federal judge has temporarily allowed health care workers in New York to apply for religious exemptions to the state’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate, according to an order.

US District Judge David Hurd made the ruling on Tuesday, granting a preliminary injunction that allows health care workers to apply for religious exemptions considered by their employers.

Hurd stated that the state Department of Health is “barred from interfering in any way with the granting of religious exemptions from Covid-19 vaccination going forward, or with the operation of exemptions already granted.”

Hurd also barred the Department of Health from taking disciplinary or other action on licenses, certifications, residency, or other professional status for those health care workers who have sought or obtained religious exemptions.

Last month, 17 health care workers, many of them unnamed doctors, residents and nurses, filed a lawsuit objecting to the New York State Department of Health’s vaccine mandate, which didn’t allow for religious exemptions. The judge issued a temporary restraining order on Sept. 14 related to the religious exemptions.

New York state had issued a rule requiring all health care workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19 by September 27. At the time of the deadline, about 92% of hospital staff statewide had been vaccinated.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement she stood by the vaccine mandate.

“My responsibility as Governor is to protect the people of this state, and requiring health care workers to get vaccinated accomplishes that,” she said in a statement. “I stand behind this mandate, and I will fight this decision in court to keep New Yorkers safe.”

Meanwhile, Christopher Ferrara, the lead counsel for plaintiffs in the case and the Thomas More Society Special Counsel, praised the judge’s ruling in a statement.

“With this decision the court rightly recognized that yesterday’s ‘front line heroes’ in dealing with Covid cannot suddenly be treated as disease-carrying villains and kicked to the curb by the command of a state health bureaucracy,” he said.

CNN has reached out to the New York Department of Health and the New York Attorney General’s Office, who were all named as defendants in the suit, for comment.

The health care workers protesting the vaccine mandate did so because they objected to being forced to take vaccines that used “fetal cell lines” from “procured abortions.”

A New York State health official confirmed in an affidavit as part of this case that fetal cell lines were used in the testing and production of current Covid-19 vaccines, according to the judge’s order.

“In sum, while none of the FDA approved Covid-19 vaccines contain any fetal cells, fetal cell lines were only ‘used in testing during research and development of the mRNA vaccines [Moderna or Pzifer], and during production of the Johnson and Johnson [Janssen] Vaccine,'” an affidavit from Dr. Elizabeth Rausch-Phung, medical director of the Bureau of Immunization at the New York State Department of Health, reads.

Even so, the Vatican has said it is “morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.”

The state entities who were sued argued that their vaccine mandate for health care workers was necessary to control the continued spread of Covid-19, including the Delta variant.

The preliminary injunction was granted as a temporary measure to allow the plaintiffs to continue to argue their cases. Hurd said the question is not whether the plaintiffs are entitled to religious exemptions but whether the state’s vaccine mandate conflicts with the plaintiffs’ “federally protected right to seek a religious accommodation” from their employers.

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Comments

7 Comments

  1. “With this decision the court rightly recognized that yesterday’s ‘front line heroes’ in dealing with Covid cannot suddenly be treated as disease-carrying villains and kicked to the curb by the command of a state health bureaucracy,”

    Very well said.

  2. Amen! Too little to late though I’m afraid, like Oregon, the damage has been done. Allowing an exemption or exception but stiill having thier accommodation be unpaid leave will not retain staff. Numbers of death and suffering due to hospital staff shortages will continue to be blamed on COVID and the “bad” antivaxxers. History will look back at this as the most foolish mass hysteria since the witch trials.

    1. Large percentage of a couple thousandths. Meanwhile hospitals can’t do the operations or procedures they need to due in larger part to staffing than COVID, but now we’re gonna get rid of more staff? The people at risk are largely elderly and immunocomprimised. Why not advise such individuals to make thier own decisions and continue with life? Could you imagine if social security was denied to anyone over 62 if they weren’t vaxxed? It would make more sense, but still trample individual rights. Instead huge amounts of perfectly healthy educated individuals are losing thier livelihood without so much as communication from thier employers or notification of termination. And speaking of social security; when these individuals say, “I’m done” retire early, change profession to a lower taxed rate job, start living off reserves they were smart enough to store, and or sucking off the hind teat of government they have so long been denied due to thier success; who pays the taxes for these insane spending bills, social security, welfare, Medicare and Medicaid??? But by all means, let’s stampede over the abyss cause everyone is so scared of a manufactured crisis they can’t see that who they are following is running from something less frightening than what they’re running to.

  3. Medical professionals from coast to coast are saying “no” to the Jab ! Even here in Oregon- where Kovid Kate threatened medical professionals with their jobs- they have yet to reach the 80% goal she demands… wonder why these educated types don’t want Bumbling Biden’s vaccine of unknown consequences.

    1. In today’s OHA release/posting:
      “Health Care Workforce dashboard monthly data refresh now available
      “For October’s data refresh, the Health Care Workforce (HCW) dashboard now includes data up to Oct. 4. The health care workforce population for each Oregon county has also been added. As expected, vaccination rates continue to climb across all license boards and types, for an overall vaccination rate of 82%.”

  4. Barney, be present at St Charles Monday am to witness just how many staff will be walking away over this mandate. You will be surprised at the numbers, because it’s NOT 20%, it’s MUCH higher. Actually interviewing those willing to walk away might gain KTVZ more watchers, as they are going to SPILL their guts out in anger over this decision. Then did you even know that the State Nursing Board met yesterday to discuss REVOKING licenses of all nurses refusing to take the jab? Isn’t that a tad petty? Does not one see the maliciousness of not only taking their livelihood away, but also removing their license over it?
    We no longer have a Free Society. America is all but pissed away, at least in Oregon.

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