Ohio Passes Law Allowing Hospitals, Doctors To Refuse Procedures On Religious Grounds

ohio religious freedom law

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) signed signed the state’s new budget bill recently, and included in the bill is an exemption for medical providers and insurers from performing any procedures that may be in conflict with their religious beliefs.

The Christian Post points out the exemption, which appears on page 1454:

“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.”

It continues saying, “Exercise of the right of conscience is limited to conscience-based objections to a particular health care service.”

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Opponents Argue Some Will Be Turned Away

Opponents of the new law say that it will be a means of discrimination against LGBT people. LGTB-rights advocate group Equality Ohio says that the bill is a “license to discriminate against LGBTQ+ Ohioans.”

Equality Ohio public policy strategist Dominic Detwiler said that the medical conscience clause was added to the budget bill because sponsors of the clause knew that “they couldn’t pass this on its merits as a standalone bill, because literally no one is asking for this to be passed.”

The Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David issued a statement that read, “Today Governor DeWine enshrined LGBTQ discrimination into law, threatening the medical well being of more than 380,000 LGBTQ people in Ohio, one of the largest LGBTQ populations anywhere in the country.”

The ACLU of Ohio said, “The practical implications may include Catholic hospitals refusing to admit LGBTQ Ohioans, health insurance companies refusing to pay for contraception, doctors blocking fertility treatments, and so much more.”

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Governor DeWine Defended The Clause

Gov. DeWine disagreed with the claim that the clause would be used to discriminate against the LGBT community. He explained the clause saying it works similar to the way a doctor would refuse to perform an abortion.

“Let’s say the doctor is against abortions, [then] the doctor is not doing abortions. If there’s other things that maybe a doctor has a problem with, it’s worked out. Somebody else does those things. This is not a problem. This has not been a problem in the state of Ohio, and I do not expect it to be a problem.”

DeWine also stated that by putting the conscience protections in the budget bill, it “simply puts in statute what the practice has been anyways.” 

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A Different Way Forward For Ohio

The medical conscience clause in Ohio points to the new direction for the right in the Biden-era of renewed liberal policy.

Often, the Obama administration’s practice of overriding health care providers’ objections to performing certain procedures such as abortion or sex-change surgeries ended up in court.

In California, the medical conscience rights of health care providers are moving in the opposite direction as well.

Catholic hospitals are being pressured into providing abortions, assisted suicides, and transgender surgeries. The University of California Health System has voted to cut ties with Catholic hospitals, saying they are engaging in “discrimination” if they do not provide these services. 


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