The Trump administration’s rule giving health providers the freedom to refuse care based on moral or religious reasons has been struck down by a second federal judge in Washington State. Essentially, the Trump rule would withdraw federally-backed health care funds to states that push back against medical professionals who refuse to participate in procedures that go against their beliefs.
This protection had been often associated with abortion and was challenged in court by groups such as Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as California and New York.
In a statement, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said that the federal government is wrong in trying to protect the rights of individual providers if it means they will discriminate against certain groups.
“The court agreed that all Washingtonians deserve to receive the full range of health care services,” he said. “This rule would have disproportionately harmed rural and working poor Washington families, who have no alternatives to their local health care providers, as well as LGBTQ individuals, who already face discrimination when they seek medical care.”
To the judge, certain people are more worthy of government protection than others.
The Right To Discriminate
In a 2010 column, economist Walter E. Williams argued that discrimination happens whether the state wants it or not because what we do with our lives (and our labor) is our property, not the state’s.
If a person is providing a private service or a good, he is just as entitled to discriminate against an individual as he is against a series of potential brides while selecting a marriage partner.
“The Nation of Islam discriminates against white members. The Aryan Brotherhood discriminates against having black members. The Ku Klux Klan discriminates against having Catholic and Jewish members. The NFL discriminates against hiring female quarterbacks. The NAACP National Board of Directors, at least according to the photo on their Web page, has no white members,” Williams explained.
Whenever there’s a private party involved, he added, it is completely up to the owner to determine who should or shouldn’t be admitted. Therefore, Trump’s “conscience protection” rule is nothing but an extension of basic property rights, except it threatens states with the withdrawal of taxpayer dollars in case they fail to comply.
By blocking this protection and keeping the federal government from enforcing this rule, judges are, in essence, violating the property rights of physicians and nurses who refuse to partake in certain procedures. If anything, this move would only give politically connected groups more tools to violate the property rights of others in the long run.
Right now, being a Christian and a conservative isn’t popular, so public opinion will be on the side of those attacking them. Tomorrow, there might be another group under the state’s target, and those trying to suppress them will use the same tools used to squash Trump’s conscience protection.