The Corner

Health Care

Ohio Enacts Conscience Protections for Health-Care Workers

President Trump speaks to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine in Columbus, Ohio, October 24, 2020. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

At the end of June, Ohio governor Mike DeWine signed a state budget that includes robust conscience protections for health-care workers.

The amendment, sponsored by state senator and medical doctor Terry Johnson, provides that physicians, other health-care workers, hospitals, and insurance providers can “decline to perform, participate in, or pay for any health care service” that violates their conscience.

The legislation requires that a medical professional inform his supervisor of the objection to a procedure before declining to perform or assist in it. When possible, the worker should then “attempt to transfer the patient to a colleague who will provide the requested procedure,” but the bill also provides that if doing so violates the health-care worker’s conscience, the patient will have to seek an alternative provider.

The provision, which has the support of the Catholic Medical Association, is especially important in light of a growing push among progressives to pass the so-called Equality Act.

If enacted, the Equality Act — which appears to have the backing of most Democratic politicians at the national level — would effectively require medical professionals to participate in contentious procedures such as gender-reassignment surgery or medically unnecessary hormone therapy, as well as elective abortions. As currently constituted, the bill does not include exemptions or protections for workers’ religious or conscience objections to particular procedures.

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