Iowa GOP Advances Bill To Allow Docs To Refuse Care Based On Religion

Iowa Republican lawmakers advanced a measure out of a Senate subcommittee in late January that would permit healthcare providers and insurance companies to refuse medical care on moral or religious grounds, the Cedar Rapids Gazette reported.

Under the proposed legislation, healthcare providers would have the right to opt out of any service that goes against their conscience.

The bill, Senate Study Bill 3006, would also grant medical institutions like clinics, hospitals, medical schools, insurance companies, and pharmacies the right to refuse to perform or cover the cost of medical procedures that are contrary to their moral or religious beliefs. However, medical institutions would still be required to provide emergency treatment to all patients.

The bill would shield providers from liability or damages if they refuse to provide medical care based on objections of conscience.

Proponents of the legislation argue that the measure would protect healthcare providers from being forced to perform treatment or procedures they object to on moral or religious grounds.

The bill’s opponents contend that the measure would endanger the lives of patients by placing the interests of medical providers above the health and welfare of those they treat.

Several other states have adopted similar measures, commonly called “medical refusal” or “conscience clause” bills. Last year, Montana and Florida enacted similar laws. In previous years, Iowa lawmakers have considered “medical refusal” legislation but none was signed into law.

Lobbyist Mazie Stilwell from Planned Parenthood Advocates of Iowa blasted the proposed legislation as “more extreme” than the previous bills introduced by Iowa lawmakers. She said the measure includes many of the “extreme provisions” found in legislation passed in other states.

While the measure advanced out of subcommittee in late January, it must still clear the Senate Judiciary Committee before it can reach the full state Senate for a vote.