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OK Attorney General granted temporary restraining order against Ascension Healthcare

Ascension St. John
Posted at 1:47 PM, Nov 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-12 19:24:02-05

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Attorney General John O'Connor filed a lawsuit Friday to block Ascension Healthcare from carrying out a vaccine mandate plan.

Ascension is one of the nation's largest healthcare networks. Ascension, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, operates hospitals and healthcare facilities in 19 states, including Oklahoma.

In Green Country, Ascension operates dozens of hospitals, clinics, and specialty care facilities, including the St. John Medical Center. Back in July, Ascension St. John announced their hospitals are requiring employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine by Nov. 12, 2021.

"Like many health systems across the country, including in many of our markets, we are moving to require our associates to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Ascension conducted a thorough moral and ethical analysis as part of the decision-making process. This decision is rooted in our mission commitment to leading with quality and safety. As a healthcare provider and as a Catholic ministry, ensuring we have a culture of safety for our associates, patients and communities is foundational to our work."

READ MORE: Ascension St. John to require vaccines for all employees

“We will not tolerate any form of religious discrimination against Oklahomans who seek reasonable accommodations from vaccine mandates based on their sincerely held religious beliefs,” Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor says about the lawsuit. “The St. John leadership and employees are good citizens in the Tulsa community, but certain employment practices against those employees cannot continue.”

In the lawsuit, the State asks the District Court of Tulsa County to enter an emergency temporary restraining order, stopping Ascension from carrying through with the terminations. According to court documents, Ascension reportedly said it would allow employees to apply for medical and religious exemptions by Oct. 1 and would approve or deny the requests by Oct, 12. There are different rumors online about the approval process for those exemptions.

“Healthcare heroes who sought a religious exemption on this and other sincerely held religious belief grounds have been flatly rejected by Ascension,” said O’Connor. “In so doing, Ascension committed religious discrimination against Oklahoma healthcare heroes who oppose abortion.”

The State is asking the Court to block Ascension from suspending or terminating the employees. The petition can be read here.

A judge granted the petition Friday evening.

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