Laxalt signs on to letter supporting “conscience protections” for health workers with religious objections

The Nevada Independent

Michelle Rindels

Republican gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Adam Laxalt has signed on to a letter supporting a new set of regulations that aims to protect health workers who don’t want to perform abortions, help transgender patients transition or take other actions because of religious or moral objections.

Laxalt joined 16 other attorneys general in signing the March 27 letter to Alex Azar, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The letter lauds the “Protecting Statutory Conscience Rights in Health Care; Delegations of Authority” regulations, saying it’s important to return to obeying conscience protections enacted by Congress and restore the rule of law in Washington. . . [Full Text]

Arkansas panel votes to study health-care conscience bill

Arkansas News

John Lyon

LITTLE ROCK — A legislative panel voted Monday to conduct a study in the interim between sessions on a bill that would allow a health-care provider to refuse to provide a service that violates his or her conscience.

The House and Senate committees on public health, welfare and labor voted, without discussion, to study legislation by Rep. Brandt Smith, R-Jonesboro, that failed to advance out of the House public health panel during this year’s session.

House Bill 1628, titled The Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Act, would have allowed a person or institution that provides health care to refuse to participate in a non-emergency service that contradicts his or her religious, moral or ethical principles. It would have prohibited the person or institution from being punished for the refusal through criminal, civil or administrative action. . . [Full text]


Why It’s O.K. for Doctors to Participate in Executions

New York Times

Sandeep Jauhaur

On Thursday, Arkansas executed a 51-year-old convicted murderer named Ledell Lee, the first of four prisoners the state intends to execute by the end of the month. That would set a pace rarely if ever matched in the modern history of American capital punishment. The state’s rationale for its intended spree is morbidly pragmatic: The stock of one of its three execution drugs, the sedative midazolam, will expire at the end of April.

The three drugs in Arkansas’s execution protocol — midazolam; vecuronium bromide, a paralytic used during surgery that halts breathing; and potassium chloride, which stops the heart — are administered intravenously. The execution procedure therefore requires the insertion of catheters, controlled injection of lethal drugs and monitoring of a prisoner’s vital signs to confirm death. This makes it important that a doctor be present to assist in some capacity with the killing. . . [Full text]


Bill to Allow Doctors to Refuse Patients for Moral Reasons

The Arkansas Traveller

Hunter McFerrin

Following the Arkansas Supreme Court’s ruling that the same anti-discriminatory laws must be implemented statewide, two organizations collaborated to author and introduce House Bill 1628, the Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Act, which would allow health care providers to refuse treatment to patients because of a violation of conscience.

Sponsored by Rep. Brandt Smith (R), Sens. Jason Rapert (R) and Linda Collins-Smith (R), HB 1628 states that its purpose is to protect physicians, health care institutions and health care providers from providing treatment to any patient if the treatment or procedure violates their consciences. . . [Full text]


Nursing school director opposes freedom of conscience

The Arkansas Legislature is considering HB 98, the Health Care Freedom of Conscience Act, which provides protection for freedom of conscience for individuals and institutions with respect to artificial birth control, assisted reproductive technologies, human embryonic stem-cell research; and contraceptive sterilization.  Meanwhile, Dr. Pegge Bell, Director of the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing at the University
of Arkansas, opposes the exercise of freedom of conscience as a violation of the principles of healthcare.  Dr. Bell suggests that objectors might be able to negotiate arrangements, but should otherwise change specialities, or, presumably, leave the profession. [NWA]