Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a bill on Friday saying doctors and healthcare institutions can decline to perform abortions if it violates their moral, ethical, or religious beliefs.
The bill was passed as states such as California try to expand abortion access, allowing nurses and other non-physicians to perform the procedure.
In a statement, Governor Hutchinson said he originally opposed the bill, but after it was made clear that the bill only applied to specific health procedures and not blanket one-size-fits-all approaches, he signed it.
Hutchinson’s statement read, "I have signed into law SB289, The Medical Ethics and Diversity Act. I weighed this bill very carefully, and it should be noted that I opposed the bill in the 2017 legislative session. The bill was changed to ensure that the exercise of the right of conscience is limited to 'conscience-based objections to a particular health care service.' I support this right of conscience so long as emergency care is exempted, and conscientious objection cannot be used to deny general health service to any class of people. Most importantly, the federal laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, sex, gender, and national origin continue to apply to the delivery of health care services."
According to the text of the bill, doctors and medical practices can refuse any procedure if it violates the moral, ethical, or religious beliefs of the organization or doctor.
The text reads, "It is the purpose of this subchapter to protect all medical practitioners, healthcare institutions, and healthcare payers from discrimination, punishment, or retaliation as a result of any instance of conscientious medical objection." The legislation goes on to define "conscience" as "the religious, moral, or ethical beliefs or principles of a medical practitioner, healthcare institution, or healthcare payer."
This legislation will protect doctors who do not ethically or morally support abortions from being discriminated against in the state of Arkansas.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Pornpak Khunatorn
John Paluska has been a contributor for Christian Headlines since 2016 and is the founder of The Washington Gazette, a news outlet he relaunched in 2019 as a response to the constant distribution of fake news.