The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will postpone a rule allowing workers to decline performing tasks they find morally objectionable until at least November. The rule has been challenged in a California court.

HHS maintains that the rule merely enforces existing policies.

“Protecting conscience and religious freedom fosters greater diversity in the healthcare space. We will defend the rule vigorously,” said Roger Severino, director of the department’s Office for Civil Rights.

Plaintiffs in the California lawsuit counter that the measure is unconstitutional.

“The Trump administration is trying to systematically limit access to critical medical care for women, the LGBTQ community, and other vulnerable patients. We’re not going to let that happen,” countered Dennis J. Herrera, the city attorney of San Francisco. He filed a lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction against the proposed measure.

Healthcare and civil rights groups, as well as a coalition of 23 states, cities and municipalities, also are suing the federal government over the rule.

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