A judge has issued an order which temporarily blocks New York state from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for healthcare workers because it did not allow for religious exemptions.
U.S. District Judge David Hurd issued his order in a lawsuit filed this week by 17 Christian doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers who object to the COVID-19 vaccine over the use of aborted fetal cell lines in its testing and development.
Court papers reportedly noted that all COVID-19 vaccines “use cell lines derived from fetal tissue in their development, production, or testing,” The Washington Examiner reported.
The plaintiffs say the mandate violates their constitutional rights and the New York State Human Rights Law by not allowing exemptions for “sincere religious beliefs that compel the refusal of such vaccination.”
The mandate takes effect on September 27, by which time healthcare workers at hospitals and nursing homes are required to show proof they have received at least one shot of one of the COVID-19 vaccines.
The state has until September 22 to respond to the medical professionals’ lawsuit. If they oppose the plaintiffs’ request, an oral hearing will be held on September 28.
The mandate was issued last month by then-Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has since resigned over ongoing allegations of sexual harassment.
Now-Governor Kathy Hochul’s office said it is “considering all legal options” to ensure that healthcare workers are vaccinated, according to ABC News.
“Governor Hochul is doing everything in her power to protect New Yorkers and combat the Delta variant by increasing vaccine rates across the State. Requiring vaccination of health care workers is critical to this battle,” Governor Hochul’s press secretary, Hazel Crampton-Hays, said in a statement.
The medical professionals involved in the suit used pseudonyms as it would “run the risk of ostracization, threats of harm, immediate firing and other retaliatory consequences if their names become known.”
ABC notes that they include “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,” according to the lawsuit.
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