Ark. Governor signs bill protecting right of conscience for health care workers and institutions

By Dave Andrusko

On Friday another pro-life victory in a wave of protective legislation in Arkansas, in this case a triumph for the right of medical conscience. 

Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed into law a measure which “says health care workers and institutions have the right to not participate in non-emergency treatments that violate their conscience,” the Associated Press reported.  “The bill would apply conscience protections to medical workers, hospitals, and insurance providers.” The new law takes effect later this summer.

More specifically, as pro-life medical ethicist Wesley J. Smith explained, the “Medical Ethics and Diversity Act” “permits medical professionals and institutions from being forced to perform services with which they disagree based upon religion, morality, philosophy, etc.”

The bill passed in the House on March 15 by an overwhelming vote of 72-20. The measure passed the Senate in February.

The Catholic News Agency noted “The bill is supported by state surgeon general Greg Bledsoe.” 

Smith put the importance of such protection as these in context:

“In short, there is a concerted effort underway to compel the entire medical sector to adopt a utilitarian secular ethical outlook that would either force pro-lifers, orthodox Catholics, etc. to violate their deepest held moral beliefs as the cost of medical licensure, or compel them — as a matter of personal conscience — to get out of medicine.”

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