Politics & Government
3:58 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Senate panel adopts “conscientious objector” measure

The state Senate Health Policy Committee has approved a measure that allows health care providers and insurance companies to deny patients medical treatments if they have a moral objection.

Committee approval puts the bill in line for a vote by the full Senate.

Republican state Senator John Moolenaar says there is an exception in the bill if a patient faces a medical emergency.

“If there was an emergency, health care services would be provided regardless of violations of conscience. In the case of a specific person, no person would be denied services based on personal characteristics.”

Moolenar says that ensures health care providers cannot discriminate against particular patients.

State Senator Rebekuh Warren is a Democrat who sits on the Senate Health Policy Committee.

She says patients facing a health crisis could still be denied services in some cases. She says that’s why she voted against the bill.

“This would allow health insurance payers, whole healthcare systems, hospital systems, doctors’ offices, medical schools, educational institutions to cloak themselves in a conscientious objection and refuse to give treatment, even emergency treatment, to people who need care.”

A health care professional who refuses to offer a service would have to refer patients to to a provider who does offer the treatment. The full state Senate could vote on the measure when it returns from a two-week spring break. 

Michigan already allows health professionals to refuse to provide abortions.