Friday, October 22

Gov. DeWine Approves “Medical Practitioner Conscience” Clause; Called a “License to Discriminate” Against LGBTQ+ Ohioans

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Governor Mike DeWine signed Ohio’s budget (HB 1222) on Wednesday, keeping intact a “Medical Practitioner Conscience” clause, which allows healthcare providers to refuse care if they feel that care conflicts with their “moral, ethical, or religious beliefs.”

Equality Ohio has called the clause a “license to discriminate” against LGBTQ+ Ohioans, highlighting that LGBTQ+ and ally individuals filled the governor’s voicemail and sent thousands of e-mails to strike this language, but that those efforts were unsuccessful.

Amendment SC3909 (“Medical Practitioner Conscience Clause”) was added without the opportunity for public comment. From the synopsis of the language:

Recognizes the authority of a medical practitioner, health care institution, or health care payer to decline to perform, participate in, or pay for any health care service that 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.

Requires a medical practitioner, when the practitioner becomes aware of a health care service’s conflict with or violation of the practitioner’s beliefs or principles, to notify the practitioner’s supervisor (if applicable), request to be excused from the service, and, if willing, seek a colleague to perform the service.

Specifies that a medical practitioner, health care institution, or health care payer is not subject to civil, criminal, or administrative liability for declining to participate in or pay for a health care service.

Additional language added in at the last minute—now codified by Dewine—further suppresses comprehensive sex education by adding barriers to schools that want to teach a comprehensive curriculum rather than abstinence-only programming, which has been proven to be not accurate and causes harm to students.

House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) condemned the addition of this harmful language.

“[Governor DeWine] caved to pressure within his party, leaving intact dozens of misguided, partisan provisions that threaten access to quality health coverage and childcare, prioritize giveaways to the wealthy over investing in Ohio’s future, and undermine our elections,” Sykes said in a statement.

When specifically asked about the language at a press conference on Thursday, DeWine replied that such discrimination is “not a problem.”

Ignite Action:

  • Attend the forum hosted by Equality Ohio on Tuesday, July 13th at noon for a livestream debrief of June and discussion on how Ohioans can prepare for the legislature’s return in the fall. Register: https://bit.ly/JuneDebrief.

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The Buckeye Flame amplifies the voices of LGBTQ+ Ohioans to support community and civic empowerment through the creation of engaging content that chronicles our triumphs, struggles, and lived experiences.

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