By Collin Reischman
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A bill that would allow medical care providers to deny procedures that might violate their personal conscience was given preliminary approval in the state House of Representatives Monday evening.
The legislation, sponsored by Speaker Tim Jones, R- Eureka, was perfected by a 118-42 vote. The bill states that any medical professional has the right to refuse participation in any “care, treatment or procedure” that violates their “right of conscience.”
The bill is specifically limited to “specified medical procedures or research,” including various types of abortion, contraception, and cloning. Supporters noted that the bill requires employees to make their conscience objections known ahead of time and that none of the bill applies to emergency medical care of any kind.
Jones, who made a rare trip to the floor for debate, argued that the bill was about “workers rights” and insisted that the body pass the measure to “protect our long-standing ‘right of conscientious objection’ in this country.”
“I’ve heard some fear mongering about this bill,” Jones said. “But the facts simply don’t match up. This bill does not pertain to anyone in an emergency. This bill does not prevent access to emergency contraception for victims of rape. This bill simply clarifies and strengthens laws we already have allowing us our ‘right of conscience.’”
Several Democrats, including many of the caucus’s female members, spoke in opposition to the legislation.
“Rape victims and patients deserve their own ‘right of conscious,’” said Rep. Stacy Newman, D-Clayton. “Their liberty, their conscience, should be respected in a time of crisis. I’m ashamed of this bill. This bill discriminates against women.”
Democrats charged that the bill would allow for medical professionals to deny potentially life saving treatment to patients and could result in a lower standard of care in rural areas with less health care options.
Collin Reischman is the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. To contact Collin, email email@example.com or via Twitter at @CMReischman