Efforts to overturn vaccine mandates for both hospital patients and health care workers appear to be gaining momentum across the United States.
In what’s seen as a major victory for transplant patients who didn’t take the COVID-19 vaccine, one of the largest transplant centers in the United States reversed its policy to require the vaccine in order to be eligible for an organ transplant.
The University of Michigan (UM) announced its new policy on May 4, just before court proceedings started in a lawsuit filed against it for declaring patients ineligible for an organ transplant unless they agreed to receive the vaccine.
The suit was filed on behalf of several patients by David Peters of Pacific Justice Institute, who, in celebrating the reversal, simply said “We’re winning!”
According to a written statement by UM, “new information” led to the “voluntary decision” to reverse its policy.
“The University hereby gives notice to the Court that in light of developing epidemiological and other actuarial circumstances, effective April 27, 2023, it has changed its Transplant Center COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement for Adult Transplant Candidates,” the statement reads. “Relevant to this litigation, COVID-19 vaccine will no longer be required prior to wait-listing of potential adult solid organ transplant recipients.”
The UM decision came on the same day that a federal judge chastised Maine Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Patwardhan for filing a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed on behalf of health care workers who lost their jobs for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“You obviously have not been reading the U.S. Supreme Court precedent on this or else you would not have filed your motion to dismiss,” Judge Sandra Lynch said to Patwardhan.
Lynch made the comments during oral arguments in the case before a three-judge panel of the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. The case is being argued by Matt Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, on behalf of the health care workers.
In addition to the ban, Maine Gov. Janet Mills also threatened to revoke the licenses of all health care employers who fail to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for all workers.
Maine is one of six states—along with New York, California, Connecticut, West Virginia, and Mississippi—that banned religious exemptions from vaccine mandates.
In April, in Mississippi, in what many parents opposed to vaccines are hoping will become a national precedent, a federal judge ruled that outlawing religious exemptions from vaccines, including school-required immunization, was unconstitutional and ordered the provision restored.
Such rulings follow a Supreme Court decision that found that it’s discriminatory for states to consider other kinds of exemptions from the vaccine while denying religious ones.
However, Peters said he believes that the SCOTUS ruling is only part of the reason hospitals are starting to voluntarily reverse COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
Peters, who holds a doctorate in medical sociology and a master’s in medicine, said the hospitals are starting to own up to the reality that the vaccines are “if not hurtful, useless.”
He has several other pending cases against transplant centers that have denied patients a spot on a list, including some in need of life-saving heart transplants, because they weren’t vaccinated against COVID-19.
Peters said he’s planning to file “tons” more across the country.
Liberty Counsel has also partnered with lawyers in states including Florida to bring similar lawsuits on behalf of patients and health care workers.
Florida attorney Jenn Vasquez represents nursing students on behalf of Liberty Counsel in pending litigation against their colleges for refusing to let them complete their clinicals unless they get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“And yet we are being told we are in a nursing crisis,” she told The Epoch Times.
In Maine, another group, Health Choice Maine, has filed a separate lawsuit on behalf of EMTs who were fired for not taking the vaccine.
The Mills administration continues to enforce the mandate for EMT workers despite a critical shortage of technicians and drivers in Maine, which has the largest elderly population in the United States.
One of the largest U.S. hospitals has also been taken to court over its denial of religious exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine.
Oral arguments are scheduled for May 10 in a case against Mass General Brigham in Boston.
In the lawsuit, 159 workers question why the hospital granted 230 employees religious exemptions but denied their requests. The hospital cited “hardship” as the reason but didn’t explain what it meant, the complaint shows.
The hospital has filed a summary judgment asking the court to dismiss the case.
Massachusetts attorney Ryan McLane of McLane & McLane, a law firm affiliated with Liberty Counsel, is representing the 159 health care workers in the case.