Politics & Government
2:53 pm
Wed December 12, 2012

Medical 'moral objection' bill one step closer to law in Michigan

Many Republicans in the Michigan Legislature want to allow health care providers, or insurers to deny service to patients based on religious, moral or ethical objections.

The "Religious Liberty and Conscience Protection Act" passed the state Senate last Thursday during the tumultuous 'right-to-work' debate.

Now a House Committee has approved the bill, which will allow it to go before the full House. The Michigan House could vote on the measure today, which would send it to Gov. Snyder's desk.

More from the Detroit Free Press:

On a straight party-line vote, the state House insurance committee voted Wednesday to approve a bill that would allow health care providers and facilities to refuse service based on a moral objection, religious reasons or matters of conscience.
The bill now moves to the full House, where it could be considered as early as this afternoon and, if approved, would move to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.

The sponsor of the bill, State Senator John Moolenaar (R-Midland) said the Religious Liberty and Conscience Protection Act would "establish a solid, yet workable framework for protecting the fundamental rights for all Michigan citizens."

Under the current legislation, health care providers or insurers could not deny care in emergency situations, and they would be required to let patients know where they can go for treatment.

But critics say sometimes religiously affiliated health care facilities are the only option in some places. Again, from the Freep:

State Rep. Marcia Hovey-Wright, D-Muskegon, said her constituents could be severely affected by the law because the only major hospital that services her district is a Catholic hospital.

The facility could deny care to a patient and be immune from liability, as MPRN's Jake Neher points out:

They point to a provision in the bill that would protect against civil, criminal, and administrative liability for individuals and facilities that choose to deny care.