House committee defeats bill to allow ‘conscience’ refusal to provide or pay for medical services

Arkansas Times

Max Brantely

The House Public Health Committee today declined to endorse SB 289 which allows a medical practitioner, healthcare institution, or health insurance payer not to participate in a healthcare service that violates their conscience.

The vote was 8 for to 10 against, with Rep. Jim Dotson not voting and Chair Jack Ladyman abstaining.

An extensive presentation for the bill was followed by abbreviated public testimony, but it included heavyweight opposition from a former Supreme Court justice, UAMS and the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce.

Testimony included support from Surgeon General Gregory Bledsoe, speaking individually, who opposed the legislation in 2017. Since then, he said, circumstances have changed. Bledsoe, a candidate for lieutenant governor, said he saw no problem needing a solution then. Now, he said, said he feared federal intervention to force providers to do procedures they oppose. . . continue reading

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