State to pay Christian doctors massive sum after trying to mandate disturbing treatment

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Capt. Gordon Wisbach, Naval Medical Center San Diego's Bio-skills Training and Simulation Center surgical director and one of the Virtual Medical Operation Center's most senior surgeons, center, prepares equipment in one of the hospital's operating rooms ahead of a surgical telementoring session, May 14, 2021. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jake Greenberg)
Capt. Gordon Wisbach, Naval Medical Center San Diego’s Bio-skills Training and Simulation Center surgical director and one of the Virtual Medical Operation Center’s most senior surgeons, center, prepares equipment in one of the hospital’s operating rooms ahead of a surgical telementoring session, May 14, 2021. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jake Greenberg)

By Kate Anderson
Daily Caller News Foundation

A Christian group of doctors is set to receive $300,000 from the state of California after it attempted to mandate that doctors provide assisted suicide services, according to a Wednesday press release from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).

A lawsuit was filed against state Attorney General Rob Bonta in February 2022 by the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), after California passed SB 380, which removed protections for religious medical professionals who refuse to participate in assisted suicide. A federal judge ruled that the law likely violated the First Amendment rights of the physicians and the state recently agreed to pay $300,000 to CMDA in attorney’s fees, according to a press release.

“Our clients seek to live out their faith in their medical practice, and that includes valuing every human life entrusted to their care,” ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot said in the press release. “Participating in physician-assisted suicide very clearly would violate their consciences. We’re pleased the court followed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in NIFLA v. Becerra that clarified First Amendment protections extend to religious medical professionals.”

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In 2015, California passed the End of Life Options Act, which allowed individuals to obtain assisted suicide services if they were facing a terminal illness, but amended the act in 2021 to require physicians to participate regardless of their religious or conscientious objections, according to the press release. In response, CMDA filed a lawsuit with ADF in 2022, demanding that the state change the law to protect the religious rights of California doctors to opt out of intentionally ending a life.

A U.S. District Court judge ruled last year that California’s new changes to the law would likely force a doctor to violate their religious beliefs and therefore violate the First Amendment.

“Having found Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their First Amendment free speech claim, the Winter factors favor a preliminary injunction,” the judge wrote in the opinion. “Plaintiffs have demonstrated they are likely to suffer a violation of a constitutional right absent an injunction, and ‘[i]t is well established that the deprivation of constitutional rights ‘unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury.’”

ADF noted in the press release that, in addition to the settlement payment, the state had agreed not to enforce “any criminal or civil punishment, including professional discipline or licensing sanction for a California-licensed physician” that chooses not to administer an assisted suicide procedure.

Bonta did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

This story originally was published by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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