LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas House panel on Thursday rejected legislation that would have allowed medical providers to refuse to treat someone because of their religious or moral beliefs after opponents said it was too broad and would allow discrimination against patients.
The House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee voted 8-10 for the proposal, which said health care workers and institutions have the right to not participate in non-emergency treatments that violate their conscience. The Senate approved the bill earlier this month.
The proposal had the backing of state Surgeon General Greg Bledsoe, who opposed a similar measure that failed in the Legislature in 2017. Supporters of the bill said it would protect health care workers from being forced to perform something that goes against their conscience.
But the head of the Arkansas chamber of commerce told the panel some of the state’s largest companies opposed the bill because of concerns that it would prevent some of their employees from getting needed medical care.
Opponents have also said it would allow providers to turn LGBTQ patients away because of a provider’s personal beliefs.