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More than a dozen states and three cities join lawsuit suing Trump over rule allowing health care providers to opt out of participating in abortions

The rule would allow insurers to opt out of paying for abortions

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A group of 22 states, counties, and cities has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, to try to get rid of a rule that would allow employers, insurers, and health care providers to opt out of procedures, including abortion, that conflicted with their beliefs.

What does the rule say?

Announced on May 2, the 440-page rule from the Department of Health and Human says that people or institutions can't be discriminated against based on personal beliefs that would prevent them from assisting in an abortion, contraception, "assisted suicide, euthanasia, or mercy killing."

"Together, we are building a culture that cherishes the dignity and worth of human life," Trump said when he announced the new rule. He added that this would protect the conscience rights of "physicians, pharmacists, nurses, teachers, students, and faith-based charities."

This rule would go into effect on July 22, 60 days after it was published in the federal register. That is, unless it's struck down first.

What about this lawsuit?

The lawsuit was filed by 18 states (Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin), 3 cities (New York City, Chicago, and Washington D.C.), and Cook County Illinois.

The lawsuit is being led by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

"The federal government is giving health care providers free license to openly discriminate and refuse care to patients," James said.

The multi-state lawsuit claims that the Trump administration's rule would risk "undermining longstanding efforts by those institutions to build trust with the patient communities they serve."

California has filed a similar lawsuit of its own in San Francisco.

In his state's lawsuit, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said that the new rule "impedes access to basic care" and "encourages discrimination against vulnerable patients."

Roger Severino, the director of the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights, has promised to "defend the rule vigorously," saying that it "gives life and enforcement tools to conscience protection laws that have been on the books for decades."

One last thing…
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