Thursday, December 8

City of Columbus sues state of Ohio over “Medical Practitioner Conscience” law

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The city of Columbus has filed a lawsuit against the state of Ohio challenging the “Medical Practitioner Conscience” law passed in 2021.

Governor Mike DeWine signed Ohio’s budget (HB 110) on June 30 — the final day of Pride Month — keeping intact the “Medical Practitioner Conscience” clause, which allows healthcare providers to refuse care if they feel that care conflicts with their “moral, ethical, or religious beliefs.”

The measure was quickly labeled “the most homophobic law in the country” and triggered widespread condemnation, including California restricting state-funded travel to Ohio.

Filed in Franklin County Common Pleas Court Wednesday, Columbus’ lawsuit aims to repeal the bill that allows health care professionals to deny providing vaccines, prescriptions for birth control, blood transfusions, any treatments or counseling for HIV/AIDS, gender-affirming care, or any other procedure to which they object.

“Health care professionals live by an oath to do no harm, but the Conscience Clause writes harm into our laws and allows medical professionals and insurance companies to deny care based on beliefs not backed by science or medicine. It’s dangerous, discriminatory and unconstitutional,” Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein said.

“Ohio’s Conscience Clause is an egregious, unconstitutional overreach by the legislature, and the city of Columbus is ready to pursue every legal avenue to ensure discrimination is not the law of our state,” Columbus Solicitor General Rich Coglianese said in a written statement. “We take seriously our obligation to provide equal access to city services for all residents, and this law infringes upon our authority to do so.”

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost issued the following statement in response to the lawsuit.

It is amazing how little rights of conscience matter to those without one. This law was thoroughly vetted, is grounded in historical constitutional bedrock and passed by the elected representatives of the people of Ohio through the normal legislative process. This lawsuit is meritless, anti-democracy and authoritarian. The law will be vigorously – and I believe successfully – defended  in court.

To date, no other Ohio municipality has filed suit against the state with regards to the Conscience Clause. 🔥

About Author

Ken Schneck is the Editor of The Buckeye Flame. He received the 2021 Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for the LGBTQ Journalist of the Year from the NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists. He is the author of "Seriously, What Am I Doing Here? The Adventures of a Wondering and Wandering Gay Jew" (2017), "LGBTQ Cleveland" (2018), "LGBTQ Columbus" (2019), and "LGBTQ Cincinnati" (2020). In his spare time, he is a professor of education at Baldwin Wallace University.

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