Arkansas Governor Signs Law Allowing Doctors to Refuse Service Based on Religious Beliefs

Governor of Arkansas Asa HutchinsonAsa Hutchinson Arkansas Governor Signs Ban on Transgender Sports Enemy Within: Experts Warn America Won’t Learn from Past Pandemic Mistakes The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden: Back to the Future on Immigration, Afghanistan, Iran MORE (R) signed into law a bill on Friday that allows doctors to refuse to treat patients if their belief systems don’t align with the service being provided.

SB289, the Medical Ethics and Diversity Act, gives physicians the right to refuse treatment based on religious or moral objections.

The measure, which will take effect this summer, stipulates that healthcare workers and institutions can choose not to provide certain treatments to patients only in non-emergency situations.

Hutchinson rejected a similar measure in 2017. A statement issued by Hutchinson’s office stated that it signed this new measure because it limited the right of health care providers to deny certain health care services, not individuals.

“The bill was amended to ensure that the exercise of the right to conscience is limited to ‘conscientious objections to a particular health care service,'” Hutchinson said in the statement.

“I support this right to conscience as long as emergency care is exempt and conscientious objection cannot be used to deny general health service to any class of people,” he said. “Most importantly, federal laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, sex, gender and national origin continue to apply to the provision of health care services.”

LGBT advocacy groups, including the Human Rights Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union, have criticized the move, arguing that it allows unfair discrimination against the community.

Hutchinson’s signing of the bill comes a day after he passed the “Women’s Sports Fairness Act,” which prohibits transgender women from participating in women’s sports in the state.


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