(The Heart Sq.) – Maine is dealing with a authorized problem from a conservative group over Gov. Janet Mills’ new mandate that well being care employees be vaccinated towards COVID-19.
The lawsuit, filed by the Florida-based Liberty Council on behalf of greater than 2,000 Maine well being care employees, alleges that the state Heart for Illness Management is violating federal regulation by requiring vaccinations for well being care employees with out permitting a spiritual exemption for individuals who object.
“Maine is required to abide by federal regulation and supply protections to staff who’ve sincerely held non secular objections to the COVID-19 vaccines,” the plaintiffs wrote within the 59-page criticism.
The lawsuit mentions a number of unidentified medical employees who’ve non secular objections to the vaccines however have both been fired or informed they can not be employed by state-funded well being care teams as a result of they refuse to get vaccinated.
Maine Legal professional Normal Aaron Frey issued an announcement to information retailers defending the state’s coverage and vowing to “vigorously defend” the vaccine mandate in court docket.
“For a few years the state has required well being care employees to be vaccinated towards varied communicable ailments and, to our data, that requirement has by no means been challenged,” Frey stated within the assertion. “It’s a easy and commonsense factor you are able to do to guard not solely your self, but additionally your family members, co-workers, and the group.”
Below Mills’ government order, well being care employees within the state have till Oct. 1 to be absolutely vaccinated towards the virus.
The requirement contains well being care employees in nursing properties and different long run care amenities, firefighters, emergency medical service organizations and dental employees.
Solely medical exemptions shall be allowed, not non secular or philosophical.
Mills stated the brand new guidelines are wanted to forestall additional outbreaks because the state battles a resurgence of the virus that has contributed to an increase in new infections and hospitalizations.
The brand new vaccine mandate is backed by the Maine Medical Affiliation and Maine Hospital Affiliation and several other different well being care teams, which say it should enhance public well being.
Each of Maine’s two largest hospital techniques, MaineHealth and Northern Gentle Well being, just lately introduced that they are going to require well being care employees to get the vaccine.
The U.S. Division of Well being and Human Companies is requiring COVID-19 vaccines for all well being care staff who work for the federal authorities.
However the Liberty Counsel argues that non secular objections to the vaccines should be allowed below the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the First Modification.
“Many individuals maintain honest non secular beliefs towards taking any vaccines, or taking these derived from aborted fetal cell strains, or taking these offered by corporations that revenue from the sale of vaccines and different merchandise derived from abortion,” the group stated in an announcement.
The court docket has agreed to expedite Liberty Counsel’s request for a preliminary injunction, in response to the group. Arguments within the lawsuit shall be held in September.