Sunday, October 2, 2022

Judge: Maine healthcare workers can’t ask for exemption from religious vaccine

13 October (NWN) — A federal judge ruled Wednesday that health workers in Maine would not be able to be exempt from the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate on religious grounds.

US District Judge John Levy’s ruling means healthcare workers will have to be vaccinated against the virus by Friday, effective October 1, which will be implemented by Governor Janet Mills on October 29.

Levy’s decision comes in response to a lawsuit filed by the Liberty Council, a national religious nonprofit, on behalf of eight healthcare workers and one provider, for rejecting any drug or procedure developed or aided by the use of fetal tissue. has been cited.

The group also argued that the mandate violates the First Amendment and that the state should offer a religious exemption because it provides a medical.

The State contested saying that the two types of exemption are not comparable and should not be treated as one under the law.

Levy ruled that a religious exemption “would not address the risk associated with the central objectives of the vaccine mandate.”

“Reducing the risk of adverse medical outcomes for a high-risk segment of the population is essential to achieving the public health objective of the vaccine mandate,” they wrote.

He also said that the mandate did not prevent healthcare workers from “being true to their blatant religious beliefs,” nor did the plaintiffs demonstrate that the mandate was “motivated by any undue hostility to religion.”

“The serious risk of illness and death associated with the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and the efforts of state and local governments to reduce that risk, have burdened most aspects of modern life,” Levy said. “In this case, the plaintiffs – health workers and a healthcare provider – have shown that refusing vaccination based on their religious beliefs would result in real difficulties or would be related to their jobs.”

Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey praised the decision in a statement Wednesday.

“We are pleased with this decision and will continue to vigorously defend the requirement for healthcare workers in Maine to be vaccinated against COVID-19,” Frey said. “Getting vaccinated is a simple and common thing you can do to protect not only yourself, but your loved ones, coworkers, and the community.”

The governor’s office has estimated that the mandate will apply to more than 150,000 healthcare workers. As of 3 October, 149 of the 35,500 workers at the state’s two largest healthcare networks, MenHealth and Northern Light, had resigned in protest.

Wednesday’s decision US District Judge David Hurd ruled that New York must allow healthcare workers to take religious exemptions.

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