by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – The Republican-led US states of South Carolina, Arkansas, and Ohio now have laws in place allowing doctors to refuse to carry out certain medical procedures against their religious beliefs, Christianity Today (CT) reports. The religious conscience protection laws affect practices related to gender transition, end-of-life care, contraception, and abortion.
South Carolina is the latest US state to implement a religious conscience protection law: Gov. Henry McMaster signed legislation last month that will protect medical practitioners from losing their jobs or from being sued if they refuse to carry out a procedure against their faith, CT reports. This legislation does not provide protection for refusing to carry out emergency procedures.
Arkansas and Ohio both implemented religious conscience protection laws for medical practitioners last year, CT said. According to the Ohio law, which came into effect in September, “a medical practitioner, health care institution, or health care payer has the freedom to decline to perform, participate in, or pay for any health care service which violates the practitioner’s, institution’s, or payer’s conscience as informed by the moral, ethical, or religious beliefs or principles held by the practitioner, institution, or payer.” The Arkansas law took effect last summer and provides that medical practitioners and institutions are not required to carry out non-emergency procedures that violate their conscience, CT reports.
More Republican-led states can be expected to follow suit, and a bill was introduced to the Florida legislature earlier this year.
Fearful about increased pressure on medical practitioners to carry out gender transition procedures in particular, Dr. Jeffrey Barrows, the Christian Medical and Dental Associations’ senior vice president of bioethics and public policy, told Christianity Today: “We are very concerned and expect that we’ll have an increase in lawsuits and threats against our members and other Christian health care professionals if they do not perform some of these surgeries, prescribe cross-sex hormones, or prescribe puberty blockers.”
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