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SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

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MEDIA CONTACT: John Gillespie | | (718)270-2262

Statement from SUNY Downstate President Wayne J. Riley, M.D. on U.S. District Court Ruling Regarding the Conscience Rule for Health Workers

“As doctors who swear an oath to provide life-saving medical care for those in need, and as healthcare workers providing care in the Brooklyn community, we have a moral obligation to put the health of the patient first.

Politically-motivated federal guidance that allows individual healthcare professionals to refuse to engage in treatment without regard for the patient’s healthcare needs is reckless, unconscionable, and sets a dangerous precedent in our society. 

We commend United States District Court Judge Paul A. Engelmayer for recognizing and prioritizing the wellbeing of patients first, and we applaud the dedicated work of New York State Attorney General Letitia James and her staff to help make this ruling a reality. 

The ‘Conscience Rule’ failed to protect the welfare of patients, and would have been a catastrophic setback in addressing the health concerns of the most underserved and underrepresented members of our community and the population at large. 

At SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, we are dedicated to creating a culturally competent approach to meet the needs of our diverse population, and we were proud to work with the Attorney General’s Office on this issue.”


About SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University is the borough’s only academic medical center for health education, research, and patient care, and is a 342-bed facility serving the healthcare needs of New York City, and Brooklyn’s 2.6 million residents. University Hospital of Brooklyn (UHB) is Downstate’s teaching hospital, backed by the expertise of an outstanding medical school and the research facilities of a world-class academic center. More than 800 physicians, representing 53 specialties and subspecialties—many of them ranked as tops in their fields—comprise Downstate's staff.

A regional center for cardiac care, neonatal and high-risk infant services, pediatric dialysis, and transplantation, Downstate also houses a major learning center for children with physical ailments or neurological disorders. In addition to UHB, Downstate comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative, including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter at @sunydownstate.