LANSING - The Republicans in the Michigan legislature have passed a bill today that would allow hospitals, nursing homes or any other health care center to deny services that run contrary to the religious teachings or conscious of its leaders. This so-called conscience objection bill would open the doors for healthcare providers, insurance companies and employers to disallow healthcare services to anyone they find objectionable, such as LGBT people and women seeking family planning services including birth control and abortions.Justice Kennedy in striking down Amendment 2 writing in Romer v. Evans decision declared, "'A state cannot so deem a class of persons a stranger to its laws."
Senate Bill 975, approved Dec. 6, was introduced by Sen. John Moolenaar (R-Midland) and co-sponsored by 22 other Republicans - almost the entire Republican caucus.
"My bill will help protect the deeply held religious beliefs of Michigan families," Moolenaar said in a written statement.
Today, the House Insurance Committee voted along strict party lines to move the bill out of committee to the full House for a vote as early as this afternoon.
This is the latest incarnation of the "conscience objection" bill that's been floating around the legislature for 12 years. If passed by the House, it would mark the first time a version of the bill has passed both chambers. Gov. Rick Snyder has not indicated whether he will sign the bill.
This "conscience of choice" legisation essentially declares gays, and doubtlessly impure women, as "strangers to health care."
I weep for my home state.
Update: The Detroit Free Press has more:
Mary Pollack, president of the National Organization for Women, brought up the example of Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old dentist in Ireland, who miscarried a fetus and was refused an abortion until there was no fetal heartbeat, leaving the woman to die of blood poisoning before a procedure could happen.And more from MLive:
“This is the kind of story that happened before modern medicine. It should not happen today,” she said. “If you pass this bill it will allow whole facilities to refuse treatments for cases like this.”
“We have big concerns about how this affects people in geographic areas of the state that don’t have a lot of access, or as Rep. Hovey-Wright has brought up, that are served by only one hospital system that might entirely disagree with providing services for a particular population,” said Ryan Sullivan of Michigan Consumers for Healthcare. “That would mean that an individual from those areas might be able to get care in other parts of the state, but they might not be able to afford to travel or might not be medically stable enough to do so.”It's being pushed by Catholic operative and the Right to Life crowd:
Michigan Catholic Conference and Michigan Right to Life offered their support.I don't think I feel safe returning home to visit, knowing I might get sick and not have a right to health care.
“The Chicken Little factor on this legislation and the testimonies I’ve heard to this point really take me to the edge of my patience,” said Ed Rivet, legislative director for Michigan Right to Life.
It will be up to individual institutions to decide how to handle individual employee objections. One person raised the controversial 2005 case of Terry Schiavo, who was the subject of end-of-life lawsuits while she was in a "prolonged vegetative state."