A federal judge has temporarily blocked New York State from forcing medical workers to be vaccinated after a group of health care workers sued, saying their Constitutional rights were violated because the state’s mandate disallowed religious exemptions.
The Associated Press reports Judge David Hurd in Utica issued the order after 17 health professionals, including doctors and nurses, claimed in a lawsuit Monday that their rights were violated with a vaccine mandate that disallowed the exemptions.
The judge gave New York state until September 22nd to respond to the lawsuit in federal court in Utica. If the state opposes the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary court order blocking the vaccine mandate, a September 28th oral hearing will occur.
The state issued the order August 28th, requiring at least a first shot for health care workers at hospitals and nursing homes by September 27th.
In their lawsuit, health care professionals cited violations of the U.S. Constitution, along with the New York State Human Rights Law and New York City Human Rights Law, because the state Department of Health regulation requiring workers to get the vaccine provided no exemption for “sincere religious beliefs that compel the refusal of such vaccination.”
The court papers said all of the available vaccines employ aborted fetus cell lines in their testing, development or production.
The lawsuit said the plaintiffs wanted to proceed anonymously because they “run the risk of ostracization, threats of harm, immediate firing and other retaliatory consequences if their names become known.”
The plaintiffs, all Christians, included practicing doctors, nurses, a nuclear medicine technologist, a cognitive rehabilitation therapist and a physician’s liaison who all oppose as a matter of religious conviction any medical cooperation in abortion.
It added that they are not “anti-vaxxers” who oppose all vaccines.
Messages seeking comment were sent to lawyers for the Thomas More Society who filed the lawsuit, the New York state health department and the New York’s governor’s office. The state attorney general’s office referred questions to the health department.
The state says it’s considering all legal options.
State Senator George Borrello issued a statement saying the judge’s order is a positive step toward what he hopes is the impetus for the state to withdraw the mandate altogether. He said whether “the objections are religious, medical or personal, no one should be forced to take a vaccine against their will. The right path to vaccination is by building consensus and confidence, not through coercion, shaming and threats of termination.”