Kentucky Senate bill proposes right for doctors to refuse procedures based on beliefs

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HENDERSON, Ky. (WEHT) The Kentucky State Senate is expected to debate a bill that allows doctors and other medical professionals to refuse to perform a procedure based on personal or religious beliefs. But critics say it could harm healthcare for all Kentuckians.

“I believe it’s important that medical professionals have the ability to object and not be forced to do something that they don’t believe in and violates their conscience,” says State Sen. Robby Mills, R-Henderson County. He is one of five co-sponsors of a bill known he described as a “medical provider conscience bill”. He says it protects doctors, nurses or other health care providers who refuse to do a procedure based on their religious beliefs or conscience.

“I’ve seen some instances where folks have gotten caught in a situation where they are being forced, or they feel like their job is reliant that they do a procedure that they possibly don’t agree with,” says State Sen. Mills.

The bill also makes a provider not liable for not doing a procedure based on conscience, and protects them from discrimination.

“This bill, basically, explicitly, discrimination in health care,” says Nate Crawford, Assistant State Director for American Atheists. He says the bill, if it becomes law, would lower the quality of health care in Kentucky because patients would not know if they would be turned down.

“When they go into a hospital, they don’t know what they’re going to get under this bill because If anybody you run into could just decide not to provide certain types of care, how on Earth could you choose the type of care you’re getting?” he says.

Other critics say the definition of conscience is too broad and can apply to any beliefs. But Mills says it should remain broad.

A Senate committee passed the bill, meaning the full senate should take it up in the coming weeks.

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(This story was originally published on February 21, 2020)

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