Hawaii Attorney General Clare Connors on Tuesday joined a coalition of 23 cities, states and municipalities in a lawsuit filed against a Final Rule issued by the Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services.

According to a press release, the rule seeks to expand the ability of businesses and individuals to refuse to provide necessary health care on the basis of businesses’ or employees’ “religious beliefs or moral convictions.”

Attorney General Clare Connors announces suspension of Keith Kaneshiro.
Hawaii Attorney General Clare Connors. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2019

The federal lawsuit, filed in New York, seeks to enjoin the rule and prevent it from going into effect.

“This rule is a license to discriminate,” said Connors. “It allows health care providers to refuse service based on personal beliefs about who is worthy of receiving the provider’s services. As such, it is a misinterpretation of religious freedom that could have devastating consequences.”

Connors joins New York Attorney General Letitia James in filing the lawsuit along with the City of New York, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, the City of Chicago, and Cook County, Illinois.

Roger Severino, director of HHS’s Office for Civil Rights, promised to “defend the rule vigorously.”

“The rule gives life and enforcement tools to conscience protection laws that have been on the books for decades,” he said in a statement.

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