Seventeen medical health professionals had asked the court to enjoin enforcement of New York’s mandate that then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Aug. 16. The mandate required staff at hospitals and long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, adult care facilities, and other congregate care settings, be vaccinated for COVID-19 to continue to be employed.
The plaintiffs, including doctors, nurses, a medical technician, and a physician’s liaison, were facing termination, loss of hospital admitting privileges, and the destruction of their careers unless they consent to be vaccinated with vaccines in contradiction of their religious beliefs, the lawsuit argued.
Their religious beliefs compelled the plaintiffs “to refuse vaccination with the available COVID-19 vaccines, all of which employ aborted fetus cell lines in their testing, development, or production,” according to court documents.
The health care employees argued that the vaccine mandate would nullify protections for sincere religious beliefs under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, even though the prior state health order in effect just days earlier had afforded the same protections.
“What New York is attempting to do is slam shut an escape hatch from an unconstitutional vaccine mandate,” attorney Christopher Ferrara, Thomas More Society special counsel, said in a statement before the injunction was granted.
“And they are doing this while knowing that many people have sincere religious objections to vaccines that were tested, developed, or produced with cell lines derived from aborted children.”
Judge David Hurd of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, a Bill Clinton appointee, granted a temporary restraining order (pdf) the morning of Sept. 14 in the case. The lawsuit was brought against New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D).
“The vaccine mandate is suspended” and the New York Department of Health “is barred from taking any action, disciplinary or otherwise, against the licensure, certification, residency, admitting privileges or other professional status or qualification of any of the plaintiffs on account of their seeking or having obtained a religious exemption from mandatory COVID-19 vaccination,” Hurd’s order states.
Ferrara learned the court injunction was granted while he was being interviewed over the telephone by The Epoch Times.