Ohio Gov. Protects Medical Workers’ Religious Rights, Signs Bill Allowing Them To Refuse Procedures Violating Their Beliefs

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine

Medical workers' religious rights are now protected in Ohio as Governor Michael DeWine signed a bill allowing them to refuse procedures that are in violation of their beliefs.

The Christian Post reported that DeWine signed the bill on Wednesday last week that excuses insurers and medical practitioners from conducting any medical procedure contrary to their religious convictions.

"Whenever a situation arises in which a requested course of treatment includes a particular health care service that conflicts with the moral, ethical, or religious beliefs or convictions of a medical practitioner, the medical practitioner shall be excused from participating," the bill stipulated.

House Bill 110, officially titled "Creates appropriations for FY 2022-2023," is an umbrella bill that amends existing bills including that on religious liberty. The bill passed the 134th Ohio General Assembly last June 30 and was implemented on the same day when the governor signed it.

"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 bill elaborated.

"Exercise of the right of conscience is limited to conscience-based objections to a particular health care service," it said.

The Christian Post disclosed that the bill is the outcome of Catholic hospitals being sued for refusing to conduct sex change operations due to religious beliefs. This is in addition to lawsuits filed by religious healthcare providers against policies implemented during former President Barack Obama's Administration.

In a 2016 report, the Christian Post said states actually sued the Obama administration for forcing doctors to perform sex change operations. The said policies were defended by the Biden administration in April.

DeWine explained in a report by The Journal-News that HB110 integrates conscience protections for it "simply puts in statute what the practice has been anyways."

"Let's say the doctor is against abortion, the doctor is not doing abortion. If there's other things that maybe a doctor has a conscience problem with, it gets worked out, somebody else does those things," DeWine said.

American Civil Liberties Union Ohio Chief Lobbyist Gary Daniels, called the bill discriminatory against the LGBTQ community in Ohio.

"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," Daniels said.

"Adoption of this language will result in less health care access across the state when someone does not like who you are or what you believe," he stressed.

Discrimination is said to be most experienced by LGBTQ members in the medical setting. A 2018 report by the National Geographic revealed that transgenders find it most difficult in emergency rooms where they are deemed as "freaks" until hospitals started creating a more welcoming environment for them.

Besides this bill, NBC News reported the state previously banned transgenders to change their birth certificate information to their new gender. However, the federal court ruled the ban unconstitutional.