ALBANI, New York (AP) – New York City health workers will be able to seek religious exemptions from the statewide COVID-19 vaccine mandate in a lawsuit challenging admissions, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.
A month ago, Judge David Hurd of Utica issued a temporary restraining order after 17 doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals said in a lawsuit that their rights would be violated by a vaccine prescription that prohibited exemptions.
Heard’s preliminary injunction on Tuesday means New York will continue to be barred from enforcing any requirement to waive religious benefits by employers.
New York Governor Katie Hochul said she would challenge the decision in court “to keep New Yorkers safe.”
“It is my responsibility as governor to protect the people of this state, and this requires that healthcare workers get vaccinated,” she said in a prepared statement.
The state did not provide information on the total number of workers who applied for religious benefits.
Hurd wrote that medical professionals who file a lawsuit against the state are likely to succeed on the merits of their constitutional lawsuit. The question presented in this case, Hurd writes, is whether the mandate “contradicts plaintiffs and others protected by federal law to seek religious consent from their individual employers. The answer to this question is unequivocally positive. “
“This is clearly just a ludicrous reappraisal of the authorities,” said Christopher Ferrara, special adviser to the Thomas More Society, who represented the plaintiffs. “You cannot do that to people. You cannot call them heroes one day and throw them out on the sidewalk the next day.
The Khokhul administration began requiring hospital and nursing home workers to get vaccinated on September 27, and has recently expanded the requirement to include nursing home workers, hospices, treatment centers and home health workers.
The plaintiffs, all Christians, are religiously opposed to any medical collaboration in abortion, including the use of vaccines linked to fetal cell lines in testing, development or manufacturing, according to court documents.
Several types of cell lines, created several decades ago using fetal tissue, exist and are widely used in medical production, but the cells in them today are clones of early cells, and not the original tissue.
Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine is made using an adenovirus grown using retinal cells that have been traceable to the fetus since 1985, according to the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
The US Catholic Bishops’ Conference said in a January statement that abortion-derived cell lines were used to test Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, but not in their development or production.
Hurd also allowed the plaintiffs to keep their identity private by using pseudonyms such as “Dr. A.” and “Nurse J.” The plaintiffs said they want to act anonymously because they fear the risk of ostracism or retaliation.